Authoritative parent feeding style is associated with better child dietary quality at dinner among low-income minority families

Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Oct 1;108(4):730-736. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy142.


Background: Parent feeding styles have been linked to child weight status across multiple studies. However, to our knowledge, the link between feeding styles and children's dietary quality, a more proximal outcome, has not been investigated.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the relation between parent feeding styles and dietary quality of Head Start preschoolers' dinner meals.

Design: The amount of food served and consumed by children was measured by using a standardized digital photography method during 3 in-home dinner observations of low-income minority families in Houston, Texas. Trained dietitians entered food served and consumed into the Nutrient Data System for Research 2009 for nutrient analysis. Overall dietary quality of the food served and consumed at dinner was evaluated by using the Healthy Eating Index 2010 (HEI-2010). Parent feeding style was assessed with the use of the Caregiver's Feeding Style Questionnaire (CFSQ). On the basis of a parent's level of demandingness and responsiveness to his or her child during feeding, the CFSQ categorizes parent feeding into 4 styles: authoritative (high demandingness and high responsiveness), authoritarian (high demandingness and low responsiveness), indulgent (low demandingness and high responsiveness), or uninvolved (low demandingness and low responsiveness).

Results: For the overall sample, the mean ± SD HEI score for dinner served was 44.2 ± 8.4, and the mean ± SD HEI score for dinner consumed was 43.4 ± 7.0. In the fully adjusted model, ANCOVA indicated that the authoritative parent feeding style was associated with significantly higher child dietary quality compared with the authoritarian feeding style (mean ± SEE HEI consumed-authoritative 45.5 ± 0.9; authoritarian: 41.9 ± 0.7; P = 0.001).

Conclusions: Parent feeding style contributes to the overall dietary quality of children, and among low-income minority preschoolers an authoritative feeding style was associated with the highest dietary quality of the 4 feeding styles. Interventions to promote feeding practices that contribute to authoritative feeding are needed to improve the dietary quality of preschool children at dinner. This trial was registered at as NCT02696278.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet / standards*
  • Diet, Healthy
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meals
  • Minority Groups*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting*
  • Parents*
  • Poverty*

Associated data