Maternal feeding practices, child eating behaviour and body mass index in preschool-aged children: a prospective analysis

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2010 Jun 28;7:55. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-7-55.


Background: Previous research has found associations between parental feeding practices and children's eating behaviour and weight status. Prospective research is needed to elucidate these relationships.

Methods: One hundred and fifty-six mothers of 2- to 4-year-old children completed questionnaires including measures of maternal feeding practices (pressure to eat, restriction, monitoring and modelling of healthy eating), child eating behaviour (food responsiveness, food fussiness and interest in food), and mother reported child height and weight. The questionnaire was repeated 12 months later. Regression analyses were used to find longitudinal associations between maternal feeding practices, child eating behaviour and child body mass index (BMI).

Results: Modelling of healthy eating predicted lower child food fussiness and higher interest in food one year later, and pressure to eat predicted lower child interest in food. Restriction did not predict changes in child eating behaviour. Maternal feeding practices did not prospectively predict child food responsiveness or child BMI.

Conclusion: Maternal feeding practices appear to influence young children's eating behaviour but not weight status in the short term.