Core Nutrition Messages


Last Published: 07/22/2013

Research Findings Blog

Developing Messages That Work

Mother and Children

“...after hearing what we have talked about, I think maybe I should let them make decisions and involve them... Maybe they will enjoy eating more.

~Mom, Dallas in response to child feeding messages  

[The recipes are] very useful...I like simple I was like, hmm, I'd like to try that...

~Mom, Raleigh in response to whole grain tips and recipes

A large proportion of the participants in the federal nutrition assistance programs are mothers and children. Because mothers have tremendous influence over their children's food environments and eating behaviors, FNS has identified them as a high-priority audience for nutrition interventions. The Core Nutrition Messages support these efforts by providing audience-tested messages, tips, and other resources that are relevant, accurate, and easy-to-read. Our research shows that these materials resonate with moms, tap into their emotions, and engage their children in learning about healthy eating. 

An Audience-Focused, Collaborative Approach

Input from program stakeholders, focus groups, and ongoing consultation with an expert workgroup guided the development of the messages, tips and communication tools.

Input from the Field

The Core Nutrition Message Workgroup consisted of experts in nutrition education, communications, program partners and staff. The workgroup provided their expertise and insights from practice throughout the two year development period. Feedback was also obtained from practitioners in the field at key points in the process.

Focus Groups with Mothers and Children

A total of 48 focus groups were held in six cities around the country. Participants were mothers and children with household incomes within 185% of poverty level. Over 75% of the mothers and children participated in one or more nutrition assistance programs. Mothers shared information about their perceptions, beliefs, understanding and concerns regarding whole grains, milk, and child feeding. They also provided feedback on the messages and communication concepts and related materials that helped to shape the final products. For more insight about the research behind the messages, sign up for alerts about new posts. For more details about the development of these messages and findings from the earlier consumer research, see pages 6-15 of Maximizing the Message, the implementation guidebook.