Maternal parenting behaviors during childhood relate to weight status and fruit and vegetable intake of college students

J Nutr Educ Behav. Nov-Dec 2012;44(6):556-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2011.05.008. Epub 2011 Dec 3.


Objective: Examine how maternal parenting behaviors in childhood, both general and feeding specific, relate to weight status and fruit and vegetable consumption in college students.

Design: Retrospective surveys on maternal behaviors and assessments on the college-aged child's current anthropometric measures and dietary intakes.

Participants: College students (n = 424; 66% women).

Main outcome measures: Students' weight, height, waist circumference, fruit and vegetable intakes, students' reports on mothers' general and feeding-specific parenting behaviors during childhood.

Analysis: Correlation and regression analyses tested how maternal behaviors in childhood related to students' body mass index, waist circumference, and fruit and vegetable intake.

Results: Mothers' psychological control during childhood was associated with higher body mass index and waist circumference in students, and behavioral control was associated with lower waist circumference. Parent-centered feeding behaviors related to lower fruit and vegetable intakes of students, whereas child-centered feeding behaviors related to higher fruit and vegetable intakes.

Conclusions and implications: Findings suggest that parental use of behavioral control and child-centered feeding practices and minimal use of psychological control and parent-centered feeding practices during childhood may promote a child's healthful weight status and fruit and vegetable consumption in young adulthood, specifically during college.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Vegetables*
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult