How do parents' child-feeding behaviours influence child weight? Implications for childhood obesity policy

J Public Health (Oxf). 2007 Jun;29(2):132-41. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdm012. Epub 2007 Apr 18.


Background: Parents have some responsibility for children's dietary habits and they are often the focus of public health interventions designed to improve children's diets and thereby reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. The current UK interventions promote awareness of healthy food choices, but offer little guidance for parents on child-feeding behaviours.

Methods: A review of recent literature regarding child-feeding behaviours and child weight.

Results: Parents report using a wide range of child-feeding behaviours, including monitoring, pressure to eat and restriction. Restriction of children's eating has most frequently and consistently been associated with child weight gain. Furthermore, there is substantial evidence for a causal relationship between parental restriction and childhood overweight.

Conclusions: Parents may inadvertently promote excess weight gain in childhood by using inappropriate child-feeding behaviours. We recommend the development of interventions to increase awareness of the possible consequences of inappropriate child-feeding behaviours. Parents who are concerned about their child's weight will also require guidance and support in order to adopt more appropriate child-feeding behaviours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations*