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Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Mar;75(3):581-6.

Relation between mothers' child-feeding practices and children's adiposity.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, the University of Southern California, Alhambra, CA 91803, USA.

Erratum in

  • Am J Clin Nutr 2002 Jun;75(6):1125.



The prevalence of obesity in American children is currently estimated to be 25%. Poor nutritional habits during childhood have been directly related to pediatric obesity.


Our objective was to evaluate the relation between mothers' child-feeding practices and children's adiposity in a sample of boys and girls from 2 ethnic groups.


A total of 74 white (25 boys and 49 girls) and 46 African American (22 boys and 24 girls) children ( plus minus SD age: 11 plus minus 1.7 y) and their mothers participated in this study. The children's body composition was assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. The mothers' child-feeding practices were assessed with the Child Feeding Questionnaire. Dietary intake data were based on three 24-h dietary recalls conducted by use of the multiple-pass technique.


Two subscales of the Child Feeding Questionnaire, pressure to eat and concern for child's weight, explained 15% of the variance in total fat mass in both African American and white boys and girls (P < 0.001) after correction for total lean mass and energy intake (which explained 5% of the variance in total fat mass). Ethnicity, sex, and socioeconomic status did not contribute significantly to variance in total fat mass.


Child-feeding practices are key behavioral variables that explain more of the variance in total fat mass than does energy intake in a biethnic population of boys and girls. These findings have important implications for the prevention of obesity in children because they suggest that prevention programs need to focus on the feeding behaviors of parents in addition to the macronutrient and energy intakes of children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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