Permissive parental feeding behavior is associated with an increase in intake of low-nutrient-dense foods among American children living in rural communities

J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Jan;112(1):142-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.08.030. Epub 2011 Dec 22.


Parents play an important role in shaping children's eating habits. Few studies have evaluated the influence of both parenting style and parenting practices on child outcomes such as dietary intake. During spring 2007, 99 parent-child dyads from four rural US areas participated in this cross-sectional study. Child food intake was reported during two interviewer-administered, parent-assisted 24-hour recalls. Diet quality was defined as the average number of low-nutrient-dense (LND) foods consumed. Validated questionnaires were used to assess parental feeding practices and feeding style. Pearson correlations identified relationships among child food intake, parental feeding style typologies, and covariates. Regression analyses were used to predict child diet quality. Sixty percent of children and 76% of parents were overweight or obese. A permissive feeding style, which is highly responsive to a child's requests and sets few demands on him or her, was the most common (n=37) parental feeding style. This feeding style was associated with child intake of LND foods (r=0.3; P<0.001) and moderated the relationship between parental feeding practices and child intake of LND foods. In the presence of a permissive feeding style, higher levels of monitoring were associated with child intake of LND foods (β=.69; P<0.05). Parental feeding style may alter the effectiveness of parental feeding practices on children's food intake. More research is needed to understand the parent-child feeding relationship in the context of parental feeding styles and practices.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritive Value
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States