Maternal prompting types and child vegetable intake: Exploring the moderating role of picky eating

Appetite. 2020 Mar 1;146:104518. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2019.104518. Epub 2019 Nov 14.


Background: It is unknown if using different maternal prompting types is associated with vegetable intake in children perceived to be picky versus non-picky.

Objectives: 1) To test the correlation of counts of maternal prompting types with child vegetable intake, and picky eating, 2) to examine the interaction of prompting types and picky eating status on vegetable intake.

Design/methods: Low-income mother-child dyads (N = 199, mean child age 6.0 years) participated in a videotaped laboratory eating protocol with green beans, a familiar vegetable. A coding scheme was developed and reliably applied to categorize mothers' prompting types. The prompting types were: Coercive Control (Sub-Categories: Reward and Pressure-to-Eat), Autonomy Promotion (Sub-Categories: Modeling, Reasoning, Praise, and Question), and Total Prompts (sum of all prompts). Mothers completed questionnaires. Bivariate analyses tested the association between counts of maternal prompting types with amount of green beans eaten, and picky eating. Regression analyses examined the interaction of picky eating status with counts of maternal prompting type on amount of green beans eaten.

Results: Mothers used on average 1.66 prompts. Greater use of Coercive Control, Autonomy Promotion-Modeling, and Total Prompts were all inversely correlated with amount of green beans eaten. Greater use of Autonomy Promotion-Praise was directly correlated with amount of green beans eaten. In stratified models, greater use of Coercive Control prompts was negatively associated with amount of green beans eaten by the child in non-picky eaters, but not in picky eaters. There was no interaction between other prompting types and child picky eating status in predicting amount eaten. All p-values <0.05.

Conclusions: Mothers use different prompting types to encourage their children to eat vegetables depending on their picky eating status, most of which may be correlated with reduced intake.

Keywords: Child; Mothers; Picky eating; Prompts; Vegetables.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coercion
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Food Fussiness*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations / psychology*
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Vegetables*