The relationship between parental feeding practices and the child's weight

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University of Alabama Libraries

Childhood obesity is a public health concern. It is problematic in the sense that not only does it have short-term consequences for the child, such as early onset of chronic disease and social repercussions due to the stigma of being overweight, but also can result in long-term health consequences. Parental feeding strategies are related to parental weight, parent eating behaviors, and parental perception of the child’s weight. Strategies such as restricting unhealthy foods, rewarding good behavior with unhealthy foods, and pressuring children to eat healthy foods are strategies that can lead to poor dietary habits in children and excessive weight gain. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to assess the relationships among parental mindful eating, child feeding strategies, and child weight status. Participants were 45 mothers of children, ages two to five, recruited from the family medicine clinic at The University Medical Center at the University of Alabama (UMC) with a mean age of 29.1 (±1.6). The mothers were given a brief survey comprised of previously validated scales used to measure demographics, mindful eating, and child feeding strategies. Weight status of the reference child was also obtained. It was found that there was no significant relationship between parental mindful eating and the child’s BMI status (p=0.66). However, a significant relationship was found between parental mindful eating and monitoring as a child feeding strategy (p=0.01). This shows that parents who are more mindful eaters practice more positive child feeding strategies than those who are less mindful. Therefore, educating parents on becoming mindful eaters could be an appropriate strategy to foster appropriate child feeding strategies in their preschool-aged children.

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