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Parental feeding practices associated with children's eating and weight: what are parents of toddlers and preschool children doing?
journal contributionposted on 2018-09-01, 00:00 authored by Georgie RussellGeorgie Russell, Jillian J Haszard, Rachael W Taylor, Anne-Louise M Heath, Barry Taylor, Karen CampbellKaren Campbell
Parental feeding practices are associated with children's eating behaviours and weight, yet current use of such practices lacks detailed description. This limits our understanding of which behaviours to target to promote healthy growth. We explored the frequency with which a range of parental feeding practices occurs in mothers of toddler and preschool children. Combined data from four Australasian trials of healthy feeding and growth were utilized, each using the Comprehensive Feeding Practices Questionnaire (CFPQ). Data were included from mothers of toddlers (1.3-2 years; n = 1344) and preschool children (4-6 years; n = 795). Means and standard deviations for each CFPQ dimension were calculated for the two age groups. Scores were categorised by frequency, and percentages in each category calculated. Linear regression analysis determined associations between socio-demographics and feeding practices. In both age groups, mothers reported extensive use of some CFPQ dimensions including modelling, encouraging balance and variety, and healthy food environment (between 84% and 100% reported using these practices 'usually' to 'often'). Greater variation existed for other practices including pressure to eat and restriction for health. Food as a reward and pressure to eat were used more with preschool children (M = 2.5, SD = 1.0 and M = 3.1 SD = 0.9) than with toddlers (M = 1.7, SD = 0.8 and M = 2.5 SD = 0.9). For both age groups, mothers' age, education, SEP and BMI category, or the child's BMI, sex, or age predicted use of some feeding practices. Feeding practices such as modelling and providing a healthy food environment are important, but interventions are unlikely to detect effects as most parents report following best practice. In contrast, given greater variability in reported use of other feeding practices like pressure to eat and restriction for health these constructs may be more likely to detect change.