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Associations between Children's Appetitive Traits and Maternal Feeding Practices

      Abstract

      This study explored associations between child eating behaviors and maternal feeding practices, specifically testing the hypotheses that maternal “restriction” is associated with having a child with stronger food approach tendencies (eg, overresponsiveness to food), and maternal pressure to eat is associated with having a child with food avoidant tendencies (eg, satiety responsiveness). Five-hundred thirty-one families with 7- to 9-year-old children from schools in London, UK, were invited to take part in the Physical Exercise and Appetite in Children Study (PEACHES). Results are from baseline data of this longitudinal study. Of those invited, 405 gave consent for their child to participate (51.6% male; 48% female). Just over half of the mothers (n=213, 53%) completed the Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire and the Child Feeding Questionnaire for the index child (mean age: 8.3±0.62 years) during the 2006-2007 school year. Children were weighed and measured at school by trained researchers. As predicted, maternal restriction was associated with child food responsiveness (P<0.001), and maternal pressure to eat was associated with child satiety responsiveness (P<0.001), slowness (P=0.03), and fussiness (P=0.01). Child enjoyment of food was associated with lower maternal pressure to eat (P=0.01). All effects were independent of the child's body mass index standard deviation score and sociodemographic factors. Practitioners may find it useful to take an interactional perspective, acknowledging that children both influence and are influenced by their parents' feeding practices. This will allow the development of targeted interventions and better parental guidance on managing obesogenic eating behaviors in young children.
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      Biography

      L. Webber is a doctoral student, Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.

      Biography

      L. Cooke is a senior research associate, Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.

      Biography

      J. Wardle is director, Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.

      Biography

      C. Hill is a research fellow, Department of Psychology, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, UK.