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Firm maternal parenting associated with decreased risk of excessive snacking in overweight children.



To examine the relationship between parent feeding practices (restriction, monitoring, pressure to eat), general parenting behaviors (acceptance, psychological control, firm control), and aberrant child eating behaviors (emotional eating and excessive snacking) among overweight and normal weight children.


Overweight and normal weight children between 8 and 12 years old and their mothers (n = 79, parent-child dyads) participated in this study. Mothers completed surveys on parent feeding practices (Child Feeding Questionnaire) and child eating behaviors (Family Eating and Activity Habits Questionnaire). Children reported on their mothers' general parenting behaviors (Child Report of Parent Behavior Inventory). Parent and child height and weight were measured and demographic characteristics assessed. Logistic regression models, stratified by child weight status and adjusting for parent BMI, were used to determine which parenting dimensions and feeding practices were associated with child emotional eating and snacking behavior.


Overweight children displayed significantly more emotional eating and excessive snacking behavior than normal weight children. Mothers of overweight children used more restrictive feeding practices and psychological control. Restrictive feeding practices were associated with emotional eating in the overweight group (OR = 1.26, 95 % CI, 1.02, 1.56) and excessive snacking behavior in the normal weight group (OR = 1.13, 95 % CI, 1.01, 1.26). When examining general parenting, firm control was associated with decreased odds of excessive snacking in the overweight group (OR = 0.51, 95 % CI, 0.28, 0.93).


Restrictive feeding practices were associated with aberrant child eating behaviors in both normal weight and overweight children. Firm general parenting however, was associated with decreased snacking behavior among overweight children. Longitudinal studies following children from infancy are needed to better understand the direction of these relationships.

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