Objective: We examined associations between household food insecurity status and parental feeding behavior, weight perception, and child weight status in a diverse sample of young children.
Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of 2-year-old children in Greenlight, a cluster randomized trial to prevent childhood obesity. The exposure was food insecurity, defined as a positive response to a validated screen. Outcomes were parent feeding behaviors/beliefs measured by the Child Feeding Questionnaire and child weight status. t tests and linear regression were used to assess associations between food insecurity and each outcome. We adjusted for child sex, race/ethnicity, parent education, employment, site, number of children in the home, and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children status.
Results: Five hundred three households (37%) were food insecure. After adjusting for covariates, parents from insecure households reported more pressuring feeding behaviors (mean factor score 3.2 compared to food secure parents mean factor score 2.9, P = .01) and were more worried about their child becoming overweight (mean factor score 2.3 vs 2.0; P = .02). No differences were observed in monitoring or restrictive feeding behaviors. After adjusting for covariates, there was no difference in weight status or prevalence of overweight/obesity of children or parents based on household food insecurity status.
Conclusions: Parents from food insecure households reported more pressuring feeding behaviors. This finding underscores the need to address food insecurity and potentially prevent harmful effects on child feeding. Parents in food insecure households might benefit from linkage with resources and education to develop healthier feeding behaviors.
Keywords: food insecurity; minority health; obesity; parental feeding practices.
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