Deakin University
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Maternal feeding practices predict weight gain and obesogenic eating behaviours in young children : a prospective study

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posted on 2013-02-18, 00:00 authored by R Rodgers, S Paxton, R Massey, Karen CampbellKaren Campbell, E Wertheim, Helen Skouteris, K Gibbons
Background Maternal feeding practices have been proposed to play an important role in early child weight gain and obesogenic eating behariours. However, to date longitudinal investigations in young children exploring these relationships have been lacking. The aim of the present study was to explore prospective relationships between maternal feeding practices, child weight gain and obesogenic eating behaviours in 2-year-old children. The competing hypothesis that child eating behaviours predict changes in maternal feeding practices was also examined.

A sample of 323 mother (mean age = 35 years, + 0.37) and child dyads (mean age = 2.03 years, + 0.37 at recruitment) were participants. Mothers completed a questionnaire assessing parental feeding practices and child eating behaviours at baseline and again one year later. Child BMI (predominantly objectively measured) was obtained at both time points.

Results Increases in child BMI z-scores over the follow-up period were predicted by maternal instrumental feeding practices. Furthermore, restriction, emotional feeding, encouragement to eat, weight-based restriction and fat restriction were associated prospectively with the development of obesogenic eating behaviours in children including emotional eating, tendency to overeat and food approach behaviours (such as enjoyment of food and good appetite). Maternal monitoring, however, predicted decreases in food approach eating behaviours. Partial support was also observed for child eating behaviours predicting maternal feeding practices.

Maternal feeding practices play an important role in the development of weight gain and obesogenic eating behaviours in young children and are potential targets for effective prevention interventions aiming to decrease child obesity.



International journal of behavioural nutrition and physical activity






1 - 10


BioMed Central


London, England






This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

Copyright notice

2013, Rodgers et al.