Maternal-child feeding patterns and child body weight: findings from a population-based sample

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003 Sep;157(9):926-32. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.157.9.926.


Background: Certain mother-child feeding patterns (MCFPs) may promote childhood obesity and/or disordered eating.

Objectives: To assess the demographic correlates of MCFPs and to test whether differences in MCFPs are associated with child body mass index (BMI; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters) z scores in a population-based study.

Design: A secondary analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth main and child cohorts was conducted on more than 1000 Hispanic, African American, and non-Hispanic/non-African American children, aged 3 to 6 years. The MCFPs were measured by means of 3 interview questions probing mother-allotted child food choice, child compliance during meals, and child obedience during meals.

Results: Mothers of non-Hispanic/non-African American children allotted greater food choice than mothers of African American or Hispanic children. Maternal BMI and other demographic measures were unrelated to MCFPs. The lowest levels of mother-allotted child food choice and child eating compliance were associated with reduced child BMI, with mean BMI z scores of -0.36 and -0.41, respectively. Effect sizes were small, however, and MCFPs did not discriminate children who were overweight or at risk for being overweight from children who were not (P>.05).

Conclusions: Feeding strategies providing the least child food choice were associated with reduced child BMI. However, MCFPs did not relate to child overweight status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*