Early maternal feeding practices: Associations with overweight later in childhood

Appetite. 2019 Jan 1;132:91-96. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2018.10.008. Epub 2018 Oct 9.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emotions
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • New Zealand
  • Parenting*
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reward
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12617001551381
  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12611000386932
  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12608000056392
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00892983
  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN81847050