Parental child-feeding attitudes and practices may compromise the development of healthy eating habits and adequate weight status in children. This study aimed to identify maternal child-feeding patterns in preschool-aged children and to evaluate their association with maternal social and health behavioural characteristics. Trained interviewers evaluated 4724 dyads of mothers and their 4-5-year-old child from the Generation XXI cohort. Maternal child-feeding attitudes and practices were assessed through the Child Feeding Questionnaire and the Overt/Covert Control scale. Associations were estimated using linear regression [adjusted for maternal education, body mass index (BMI), fruit and vegetables (F&V) intake and child's BMI z-score]. Principal component analysis defined a three-factor structure explaining 58% of the total variance of maternal child-feeding patterns: perceived monitoring - representing mothers with higher levels of monitoring, perceived responsibility and overt control; restriction - characterizing mothers with higher covert control, restriction and concerns about child's weight; pressure to eat - identifying mothers with higher levels of pressure to eat and overt control. Lower socioeconomic status, better health perception, higher F&V intake and offspring cohabitation were associated with more 'perceived monitoring' mothers. Higher maternal F&V intake and depression were associated with more 'restrictive' mothers. Younger mothers, less educated, with poorer health perception and offspring cohabiting, were associated with higher use of 'pressure to eat'. Maternal socioeconomic indicators and family environment were more associated with perceived monitoring and pressure to eat, whereas maternal health behavioural characteristics were mainly associated with restriction. These findings will be helpful in future research and public health programmes on child-feeding patterns.
Keywords: feeding pattern; health behaviour; monitoring; preschool child; pressure to eat; restriction.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.