Observed restrictive feeding practices among low-income mothers of pre-adolescents

Pediatr Obes. 2020 Jun 14;e12666. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12666. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: To describe verbal and non-verbal restrictive feeding practices used by low-income mothers with their pre-adolescent children during a laboratory-based protocol, and examine associations between mother/child anthropometrics, child appetitive traits and mothers' restrictive practices.

Methods: Mothers and children (dyad n = 108, mean child age = 11.0 years [SD = 1.2]) were provided a standardized meal and then buffet of desserts. Sessions were video-recorded, and trained coders reliably identified positive and negative restrictive statements, non-verbal restrictive behaviours and redirection to healthier foods. Mother/child anthropometrics were measured by trained study staff and child appetitive traits reported by mothers using subscales of the Children's Eating Behaviours Questionnaire. Negative binomial regression was used to examine associations between mother/child characteristics and restrictive practices.

Results: Nearly all mothers (89.8%) engaged in restrictive feeding during the dessert buffet. Positive restrictive statements were the most common form of restriction (mean statements/10 minutes = 3.2 [SD = 3.1]). No associations were observed between children's body mass index (BMI) or appetitive traits and mothers' restrictive feeding practices. Associations of small effect size were observed between mothers' BMI, use of positive restrictive statements (incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 0.98 [0.96-0.996]) and non-verbal restrictive behaviours (IRR = 0.96 [0.93-0.99]).

Conclusions: Laboratory-based feeding protocols can objectively assess nuances in restrictive feeding practices. Further research is needed to understand how specific approaches to restriction affect children's eating behaviours and weight.

Keywords: child eating behaviour; food parenting; pre-adolescence; restrictive feeding.