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Appetite. 2014 Feb;73:163-71. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.11.009. Epub 2013 Nov 20.

Controlling parental feeding practices and child body composition in ethnically and economically diverse preschool children.

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Department of Educational Psychology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77845, USA.
Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University, USA.
Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, USA.
Department of Educational Psychology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77845, USA. Electronic address:


Controlling parental feeding practices may be associated with childhood overweight, because coercive or intrusive feeding practices may negatively impact children's development of self-regulation of eating. This study examined pressuring or forcing a child (healthy or unhealthy foods) and restricting child from unhealthy or snack foods as two types of controlling feeding practices that explain unique variances in measures of child body composition (BMI, percent body fat, and parental perception of child weight). In an ethnically and economically diverse sample of 243 children aged 4-6years old and their biological parents (89% biological mothers, 8% biological fathers, and 3% step or grand-parent), descriptive statistics indicate ethnic and family income differences in measures of feeding practices and child body composition. Additionally, the two "objective" indices of body composition (BMI and percent body fat) were related to low pressure to eat, whereas the "subjective" index (perceived child weight) was related to restriction. Regression analyses accounting for ethnic and family income influences indicate that pressure to eat and restriction both explained unique variances in the two "objective" indices of body composition, whereas only restriction explained variance in perceived child weight. Findings have implications for helping parents learn about feeding practices that promote children's self-regulation of eating that simultaneously serves as an obesity prevention strategy.


Childhood obesity; Ethnicity; Feeding practices; Poverty; Pressure to eat; Restriction

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