Deborah Albon

in Childhood Studies

ISBN: 9780199791231
Published online February 2013 | | DOI:


The area of “children and food” contains work from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, dietetics, and policy studies. This reflects the multidisciplinary interest in the topic. Globally, there are concerns about the diet of children in terms of food insecurity and obesity, for example; indeed, issues relating to food rarely appear to be out of the news. Babies and very young children are generally regarded as requiring a different nutritional intake when compared to adults and older children, and “childhood” is often constructed as an optimum time in which children learn to adopt “healthy” eating behaviors as well as culturally accepted modes of behavior associated with food and eating. Schools and early childhood settings are often viewed as playing a crucial role in inculcating healthy eating habits and ensuring children receive a healthy meal, but clearly the home is the prime site in which children eat meals and snacks and receive information about food and food provisioning. From birth (and even pre-conception), parents—especially mothers—receive messages about the kinds of foods they should eat (during pregnancy) and the kinds of foods they should feed their growing infant: the promotion of breastfeeding being a clear example of this. Furthermore, food is an area in which ideas about the “family” are played out, not least through notions of the “family meal.” Food plays a vital role in people’s sense of identity, not least in eating or not eating certain foods. Thus, food has meaning for all human beings beyond nutrition. Increasingly, writers in the area of children and food are acknowledging and foregrounding work in relation to children’s agency in food provisioning, which reflects a trend more generally in early childhood and childhood studies toward seeing children as active participants in their own lives. Therefore, a consideration of food through the lens of “children” and “childhood” is important. The children and food area of Oxford Bibliographies Online will concentrate primarily on work within a sociological frame of reference as opposed to the vast array of nutrition related, biomedical studies. Some of this work will be referred to, but researchers and students wishing to have a comprehensive overview of nutrition-based studies should explore the children and nutrition area, too.

Article.  12605 words. 

Subjects: Development Studies

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