Maternal intuitive eating as a moderator of the association between concern about child weight and restrictive child feeding

Appetite. 2015 Dec:95:158-65. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.06.023. Epub 2015 Jul 3.


Mothers who are concerned about their young child's weight are more likely to use restrictive feeding, which has been associated with increased food seeking behaviors, emotional eating, and overeating in young children across multiple prospective and experimental studies. In the present study, we examined whether mothers' intuitive eating behaviors would moderate the association between their concern about their child's weight and their use of restrictive feeding. In a sample of 180 mothers of young children, two maternal intuitive eating behaviors (i.e., eating for physical reasons, trust in hunger and satiety cues) moderated this association after controlling for maternal age, body mass index, years of education, race/ethnicity, awareness of hunger and satiety cues and perceptions of child weight. More specifically, concern about child weight was unrelated to restrictive feeding for mothers with higher levels of eating for physical reasons and trust in hunger and satiety cues. However, concern about child weight was positively related to restrictive feeding among mothers with lower or average levels of eating for physical reasons and trust in hunger and satiety cues. These findings indicate that it may be important address maternal intuitive eating within interventions designed to improve self-regulated eating in children, as mothers who attend these interventions tend to be highly concerned about their child's weight and, if also low in intuitive eating, may be at risk for using restrictive feeding behaviors that interfere with children's self-regulated eating.

Keywords: Child overweight concern; Intuitive eating; Maternal eating behavior; Restrictive feeding; Young children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight
  • Caloric Restriction / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cues
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hunger
  • Intuition*
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Mother-Child Relations / psychology
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Satiation