Fundamental constructs in food parenting practices: a content map to guide future research

Nutr Rev. 2016 Feb;74(2):98-117. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv061. Epub 2016 Jan 2.


Although research shows that "food parenting practices" can impact children's diet and eating habits, current understanding of the impact of specific practices has been limited by inconsistencies in terminology and definitions. This article represents a critical appraisal of food parenting practices, including clear terminology and definitions, by a working group of content experts. The result of this effort was the development of a content map for future research that presents 3 overarching, higher-order food parenting constructs--coercive control, structure, and autonomy support--as well as specific practice subconstructs. Coercive control includes restriction, pressure to eat, threats and bribes, and using food to control negative emotions. Structure includes rules and limits, limited/guided choices, monitoring, meal- and snacktime routines, modeling, food availability and accessibility, food preparation, and unstructured practices. Autonomy support includes nutrition education, child involvement, encouragement, praise, reasoning, and negotiation. Literature on each construct is reviewed, and directions for future research are offered. Clear terminology and definitions should facilitate cross-study comparisons and minimize conflicting findings resulting from previous discrepancies in construct operationalization.

Keywords: children; eating behaviors; feeding practices; obesity..

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Coercion
  • Diet*
  • Feeding Behavior* / psychology
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting*
  • Personal Autonomy