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Child Obes. 2013 Oct;9(5):427-36. doi: 10.1089/chi.2012.0098.

Compliant eating of maternally prompted food predicts increased body mass index z-score gain in girls: results from a population-based sample.

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1 Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill , Chapel Hill, NC.



Poorer "division of responsibility" (DoR) feeding, characterized by high parental control and reduced child food choice, may promote pediatric obesity, although population-based prospective data are lacking. We tested whether poorer DoR feeding predicts childhood overweight/obesity onset and BMI z-score gain, over 10 years in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth.


We studied 302 girls and 316 boys, with mean ages 52.24 and 52.35 months, respectively, in 1986, who were followed for 10 years. We excluded children who were initially overweight/obese. Mothers completed three DoR feeding questions in 1986: (1) child eating compliance of prompted foods; (2) child eating compliance of initially refused foods; and (3) mother-allotted child food choice. Child BMI (kg/m(2)) was calculated from measured weights and heights in 1986, 1988, 1992, 1994, and 1996.


Daughters who complied with maternal food prompts [odds ratio (OR), 2.01] and those who obeyed maternal prompts to consume initially rejected foods (OR, 2.29) "most of the time" were significantly more likely than daughters who complied less frequently to become overweight/obese after 8 years. Also, more frequent eating compliance (p<0.001) and more frequent compliance of initially rejected foods (p=0.003) predicted greater BMI z-score gain in girls. These associations were not found for boys. Maternal obesity consistently predicted overweight/obesity risk in girls (ORs, 2.48-8.63) and boys (ORs, 2.27- 4.03).


Teaching parents to avoid coercive feeding practices, while encouraging child self-selection of healthier foods, may help their daughters to achieve better energy balance.

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