Purpose: Explore the impact of general parenting style and specific food-related parenting practices on children's dietary habits.
Design: Cross-sectional study of sixth graders and their parents.
Setting: Data were gathered (in 2003) in 69 of 100 randomly selected elementary schools in Belgium.
Subjects: All sixth graders (N = 1957) were invited to participate; 82.4% of their parents gave consent and completed questionnaires, resulting in 1614 parent-child pairs.
Measures: Children's consumption of breakfast, fruit, vegetables, soft drinks, and sweets was assessed by self-administered food frequency questionnaires. Parents completed questionnaires on sociodemographic characteristics, general parenting styles (authoritarian, authoritative, indulgent, or neglecting) and specific food-related parenting practices (pressure, reward, encouragement through negotiation, catering on children's demands, permissiveness, avoiding negative modeling, and praise).
Analysis: Logistic regression analyses were performed, with general parenting style and specific food-related parenting practices as predictors and dietary habits as dependent variables, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics and children's weight status.
Results: General parenting style did not show any significant impact on dietary habits. In contrast, the food-related parenting practice "encouragement through negotiation" showed a significant positive impact, whereas "pressure," "catering on demand," and "permissiveness" were practices with an unhealthy impact.
Conclusion: Nutrition education programs that guide parents in firm but not coercive food parenting skills are likely to have a positive impact upon children's dietary habits.