Background: Parents play a vital role in their children's dietary habits. A comprehensive understanding of the perspectives of parents of children with early childhood caries (ECC) is required for prevention program planning. Aim: To describe the parental perspective of the dietary habits of children with ECC. Design: In this descriptive qualitative study, the participants were parents of children with ECC receiving routine dental care. Data were collected through focus groups using an interview guide. Data were analyzed manually using the content analysis method. Results: Five focus groups involving 27 participants were conducted. Two main categories emerged, cariogenic food literacy and factors that affect food choices. Most of the participants knew that sugary foods are responsible for tooth decay. Parents felt that children's snacking habits were influenced by multiple factors, such as family environment, peers, the commercials on television or the Internet, and affordability of food. Conclusions: Parents are not able to translate their knowledge into action to modify their children's diet as they may lack self-efficacy and feel pressured by their children, the media and the environment in which they live. Motivational interviewing of parents and governmental and school policies to reduce sugary food consumption may be required.
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