Effects of restriction on children’s intake differ by child temperament, food reinforcement, and parent’s chronic use of restriction

Appetite. 2014 Feb;73:31-9. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.10.005.


Parents’ use of restrictive feeding practices is counterproductive, increasing children’s intake of restricted foods and risk for excessive weight gain. The aims of this research were to replicate Fisher and Birch’s (1999b) original findings that short-term restriction increases preschool children’s (3–5 y) selection, intake, and behavioral response to restricted foods, and to identify characteristics of children who were more susceptible to the negative effects of restriction. The experiment used a within-subjects design; 37 children completed the food reinforcement task and heights/weights were measured. Parents reported on their use of restrictive feeding practices and their child’s inhibitory control and approach. Overall, the findings replicated those of and revealed that the effects of restriction differed by children’s regulatory and appetitive tendencies. Greater increases in intake in response to restriction were observed among children lower in inhibitory control, higher in approach, who found the restricted food highly reinforcing, and who had previous experience with parental use of restriction. Results confirm that the use of restriction does not reduce children’s consumption of these foods, particularly among children with lower regulatory or higher appetitive tendencies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Appetite
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet*
  • Eating
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting
  • Parents
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology*
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Control, Informal
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temperament*