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Appetite. 2010 Oct;55(2):201-7. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2010.05.089. Epub 2010 Jun 1.

Increased restrictive feeding practices are associated with reduced energy density in 4-6-year-old, multi-ethnic children at ad libitum laboratory test-meals.

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  • 1New York Obesity Research Center, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10025, USA.


Increased reports of restrictive feeding have shown positive relationships to child obesity, however, the mechanism between the two has not been elucidated. This study examined the relationship between reported use of restrictive feeding practices and 4-6-year-old children's self-selected energy density (ED) and total energy intake from an ad libitum, laboratory dinner including macaroni and cheese, string beans, grapes, baby carrots, cheese sticks, pudding, milks, and a variety of sweetened beverages. A second objective explored the relationship between ED and child body mass index (BMI) z-score. Seventy (n=70) healthy children from primarily non-Caucasian and lower socioeconomic status families participated. Mothers completed the Child Feeding Questionnaire (CFQ) to assess restrictive feeding practices. Energy density (kcal/g) values for both foods and drinks (ED(food+drink)) and ED for foods only (ED(foods)) were calculated by dividing the average number of calories consumed by the average weight eaten across 4 meals. Higher maternal restriction was associated with lower ED(food+drink). In overweight and obese children only, higher maternal restriction was associated with lower ED(food). There was a non-significant trend for both ED measures to be negatively associated with child BMI z-score. Overall, restrictive feeding practices were not associated with child BMI z-score. However, when analyzing separate aspects of restriction, parents reported higher use of restricting access to palatable foods but lower use of using palatable foods as rewards with heavier children. Previous reports of positive associations between child obesity and restrictive feeding practices may not apply in predominantly non-Caucasian, lower socioeconomic status cohorts of children.

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