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Child Obes. 2013 Aug;9 Suppl:S22-31. doi: 10.1089/chi.2013.0026.

General and food-specific parenting: measures and interplay.

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Department of Health Promotion, NUTRIM School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, The Netherlands.



Parental influence on child food intake is typically conceptualized at three levels-parenting practices, feeding style, and parenting style. General parenting style is modeled at the most distal level of influence and food parenting practices are conceptualized as the most proximal level of influence. The goal of this article is to provide insights into contents and explanatory value of instruments that have been applied to assess food parenting practices, feeding style, and parenting style.


Measures of food parenting practices, feeding style, and parenting style were reviewed, compared, and contrasted with regard to contents, explanatory value, and interrelationships.


Measures that are used in the field often fail to cover the full scope and complexity of food parenting. Healthy parenting dimensions have generally been found to be positively associated with child food intake (i.e., healthier dietary intake and less intake of energy-dense food products and sugar-sweetened beverages), but effect sizes are low. Evidence for the operation of higher-order moderation has been found, in which the impact of proximal parental influences is moderated by more distal levels of parenting.


Operationalizing parenting at different levels, while applying a contextual higher-order moderation approach, is advocated to have surplus value in understanding the complex process of parent-child interactions in the area of food intake. A research paradigm is presented that may guide future work regarding the conceptualization and modeling of parental influences on child dietary behavior.

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