Background: Current understanding of the impact of maternal feeding practices on weight outcomes in young children remains unclear given equivocal longitudinal study outcomes.
Objectives: To determine whether feeding practices used by mothers when their child was less than 2 years of age were related to overweight status at ages 3.5 and 5 years in a large cross-country sample; and investigate whether these associations were moderated by weight status in early life.
Design: Data from mother-child dyads participating in four childhood obesity prevention trials across Australia and New Zealand were pooled (n = 723). Each trial administered items from the Comprehensive Feeding Practices Questionnaire (CFPQ) to mothers when infants were approximately 20 months of age, measuring food as a reward, modelling, restriction for health, pressure to eat, and emotion regulation. Poisson regression was used to determine risk ratios (RR) for overweight (BMI z-score ≥85th percentile) at 3.5 and 5 years by CFPQ scores.
Results: Greater use of emotion regulation at 20 months of age predicted higher risk for overweight at 3.5 and 5 years (RR = 1.19 and 1.28, respectively), while restriction for health predicted lower risk for overweight at 5 years (RR = 0.88). Child's weight status at 20 months moderated the association between pressure to eat and overweight risk at 5 years, such that those who were not overweight at 20 months of age had reduced risk of overweight associated with the use of pressure to eat (RR = 0.68) but those who were overweight had an increased risk (RR = 1.09).
Conclusion: Early maternal feeding practices are related to a child's later risk of overweight.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00892983.
Keywords: Feeding practices; Overweight; Pressure to eat; Restriction.
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