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Appetite. 2013 Jun;65:25-30. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.11.032. Epub 2013 Feb 1.

Are maternal weight, eating and feeding practices associated with emotional eating in childhood?

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24/25, 14476 Potsdam OT Golm, Germany.



Research concerning children's emotional eating behavior has shown its negative impact on weight-related problems. Taking the model of Birch and Davison (2001) into account, we focus on the role of maternal feeding behavior on the association between emotional eating of the mother and the child.


482 mothers and their children participated in this cross-sectional study. The mothers were asked about their feeding strategies, their children's and their own emotional eating and weight. We tested a structural equation model for different feeding strategies.


In addition to an expected direct association between the mother's and child's emotional eating, the maternal feeding strategies are related to the child's eating behavior. A higher maternal restriction of food or its monitoring was associated with a higher level of children's emotional eating, while allowing the child more control about their eating was linked to less pronounced emotional eating behavior.


The results highlight the relevance of maternal feeding behavior on emotional eating in childhood. In terms of preventing weight-related problems, the findings indicate the necessity of training parents in allowing their children more control and avoiding the restriction of food.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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