Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Questions for Assessing the Family Environment

Because parents/primary caregivers of younger children can positively influence their children’s eating habits, nutrition intake, and opportunities for physical activity, assessing parenting/primary caregiver behaviours is an important component of an ongoing, comprehensive assessment.

The expert panel recommends that nurses assess parental/primary caregiver behaviours prior to an intervention and during follow-up to determine the following:

1. How much influence parents/primary caregivers have with regard to what and when their children eat;

2. Whether parents/primary caregivers encourage their children to consume a variety of foods;

3. Whether parents/primary caregivers engage in emotional feeding or the use of food to pacify children;

4. Whether parents/primary caregivers engage in instrumental feeding, or the use of food as a reward;

5. Whether parents/primary caregivers permit meals and snacks to be eaten in front of a television; 

6. Whether meals are frequently eaten together as a family;

7. How often a family goes out to eat “fast food” (e.g. fast food restaurants);

8. Whether an infant is breastfeeding;

9. Whether sugar-sweetened beverages are consumed on a regular basis;

10. Whether children eat a healthy breakfast daily;

11. Whether children’s portion sizes follow nutrition guidelines; and

12. Whether children are permitted to self-regulate their meals

Women and Children
Primary Prevention of Childhood Obesity
Point of Care Resources