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J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Dec;111(12):1861-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.09.003.

Maternal styles of talking about child feeding across sociodemographic groups.

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University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


This study sought to identify maternal styles of talking about child feeding from a semistructured interview and to evaluate associated maternal and child characteristics. Mothers of preschool-aged children (n=133) of diverse race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES) (45 lower SES black, 29 lower SES white, 32 lower SES Hispanic, 15 middle to upper SES white, and 12 middle to upper SES Asian) participated in a semistructured interview about feeding. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. Themes were identified, and individual interviews were coded within these themes: authority (high/low), confidence (confident/conflicted/unopinionated), and investment (deep/mild/removed). Demographic characteristics were collected and a subset of children had measured weights and heights. Cluster analysis was used to identify narrative styles. Participant characteristics were compared across clusters using Fisher's exact test and analysis of variance. Six narrative styles were identified: Easy-Going, Practical No-Nonsense, Disengaged, Effortful No-Nonsense, Indulgent Worry, and Conflicted Control. Cluster membership differed significantly based on maternal demographic group (P<0.001) and child weight status (P<0.05). More than half (60%) of children of mothers in the Conflicted Control cluster were obese. Maternal styles of talking about feeding are associated with maternal and child characteristics.

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