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Child Obes. 2018 Feb/Mar;14(2):81-88. doi: 10.1089/chi.2017.0164. Epub 2017 Dec 1.

The Relationship between Structure-Related Food Parenting Practices and Children's Heightened Levels of Self-Regulation in Eating.

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1 Department of Psychological, Health, and Learning Sciences, The University of Houston , Houston, TX.
2 Center for Children's Health Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Queensland University of Technology , South Brisbane, Australia .



Food parenting practices influence children's eating behaviors and weight status. Food parenting practices also influence children's self-regulatory abilities around eating, which has important implications for children's eating behaviors. The purpose of the following study is to examine use of structure-related food parenting practices and the potential impact on children's ability to self-regulate energy intake.


Parents (n = 379) of preschool age children (M = 4.10 years, SD = 0.92) were mostly mothers (68.6%), Non-White (54.5%), and overweight/obese (50.1%). Hierarchical Multiple Regression was conducted to predict child self-regulation in eating from structure-related food parenting practices (structured meal setting, structured meal timing, family meal setting), while accounting for child weight status, parent age, gender, BMI, race, and yearly income.


Hierarchical Multiple Regression results indicated that structure-related feeding practices (structured meal setting and family meal setting, but not structured meal timing) are associated with children's heightened levels of self-regulation in eating. Models examining the relationship within children who were normal weight and overweight/obese indicated the following: a relationship between structured meal setting and heightened self-regulation in eating for normal-weight children and a relationship between family meal setting and heightened self-regulation in eating for overweight/obese children.


Researchers should further investigate these potentially modifiable parent feeding behaviors as a protective parenting technique, which possibly contributes to a healthy weight development by enhancing self-regulation in eating.


childhood eating; feeding behavior; self-regulation of eating; structure-related feeding practices

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