Intergenerational transmission of dietary behaviours: A qualitative study of Anglo-Australian, Chinese-Australian and Italian-Australian three-generation families Academic Article uri icon


  • Family food choice is complex with a number of people within the family sharing food choice and preparation responsibilities. Differences in dietary behaviours also exist between various ethnic groups worldwide, and are apparent within multicultural nations such as Australia. This study examined the intergenerational transmission of eating behaviour through semi-structured family interviews with 27 three generation families (Anglo-Australian: n = 11, Chinese-Australian: n = 8, Italian-Australian: n = 8; N = 114). The influence of generation (grandparent, parent, child), role (grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, daughter, son), and ethnic background were considered. Thematic analysis identified that regardless of ethnic background, grandmothers and mothers dominated family food choice decisions even in families where fathers were primarily responsible for the preparation of family meals. The women in each generation influenced fruit and vegetable intake by controlling purchasing decisions (e.g., by shopping for food or editing family grocery shopping lists), insisting on consumption, monitoring and reminding, utilizing food as a prerequisite for conditional treats (e.g., eating fruit before being allowed snacks), instigating and enforcing food rules (e.g., fast food only on weekends), and restricting others' food choices. Grandparents and children shared a relationship that skipped the parent generation and influenced dietary behaviours bi-directionally. These findings have implications for the delivery of dietary health messages used in disease prevention interventions designed to successfully reach culturally and linguistically diverse populations and all members of multigenerational families.


  • Rhodes, K
  • Chan, F
  • Prichard, I
  • Coveney, J
  • Ward, P
  • Wilson, C

publication date

  • 2016