Maternal feeding practices and beliefs and their relationships to overweight in early childhood

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2001 Dec;22(6):391-408. doi: 10.1097/00004703-200112000-00007.


To better explore possible factors that may lead to childhood obesity, we developed and analyzed two new instruments that assess maternal feeding practices and beliefs. The Infant Feeding Questionnaire (IFQ) assesses feeding during the entire first year of life and was administered to 453 mothers of children 11 to 23 months old. The Preschooler Feeding Questionnaire (PFQ) assesses feeding of young children between the ages of 2 to 5 years and was administered to 634 mothers of children this age. Each questionnaire was factor analyzed and mean factor scores were calculated and linked with the children's measured and mothers' self-reported weight and height. Mean factor scores from the IFQ and PFQ were compared between mothers who were obese (body mass index > or = 30 kg/m2) and those who were nonobese, between those who did and those who did not have an overweight child (weight-for-height > or = 90th percentile), and between those who had a low income (< or = 185% of the poverty level) and those who had a high income. To control for confounding variables and to detect interaction among variables, hierarchical linear regression was used. Results from this study did not suggest that there is a particular "feeding style" that is associated with overweight in young children; however, there were differences found in feeding behaviors between high and low income mothers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors