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Child Obes. 2013 Aug;9(4):346-9. doi: 10.1089/chi.2012.0149. Epub 2013 Jun 27.

Associations of parental control of feeding with eating in the absence of hunger and food sneaking, hiding, and hoarding.

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  • 1Division of Adolescent Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.



Overweight children as young as 5 years old exhibit disturbances in eating behaviors.


Using follow-up data from 419 participants in High Five for Kids, a randomized controlled trial of overweight children, the prevalence of (1) eating in the absence of hunger and (2) food sneaking, hiding, and hoarding was estimated and cross-sectional associations of parental control of feeding and these behaviors were examined using covariate-adjusted logistic regression models.


At follow-up, mean [standard deviation (SD)] age of the children was 7.1 (1.2) years; 49% were female; 16% were healthy weight, 35% were overweight, and 49% were obese. On the basis of parental report, 16.5% of children were eating in the absence of hunger and 27.2% were sneaking, hiding, or hoarding food; 57.5% of parents endorsed parental control of feeding. In adjusted models, children exposed to parental control of feeding were more likely to eat in the absence of hunger [odds ratio (OR) 3.37, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.66, 6.86], but not to sneak, hide, or hoard food (OR 1.43, 95% CI 0.87, 2.36).


Disturbances in eating behaviors are common among overweight children. Future research should be dedicated to identifying strategies that normalize eating behaviors and prevent excess weight gain among overweight children.

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