Are fathers' and mothers' food parenting practices differentially associated with children's eating behaviors?

Appetite. 2021 Nov 1;166:105434. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2021.105434. Epub 2021 Jun 6.


Little is known about how fathers' food parenting practices (FPP) are linked with children's eating behaviors and whether these associations differ from mothers. This study examined associations between paternal and maternal FPP and eating behaviors among children aged 5-12 years. A sample of 565 parents (53% fathers) completed: 1) the FPP item bank, which measured 11 FPP constructs from three domains of parenting (control, autonomy promotion, and structure) and 2) the Children's Eating Behavior Questionnaire (CEBQ), to assess four constructs (emotional overeating, food responsiveness, satiety responsiveness and food fussiness). Multivariable linear regressions evaluated associations between FPP and CEBQ constructs, and models were run separately for fathers and mothers. Similarities emerged between fathers and mothers: 1) use of restriction for weight practices were positively associated with emotional overeating and food responsiveness; 2) use of practices to accommodate the child around food and use of practices to involve the child were positively and negatively associated, respectively, with food fussiness; and 3) use of practices to accommodate the child, or coercive controlling practices, was positively associated with emotional overeating. Differences emerged between fathers and mothers in terms of FPP associated with children's food and satiety responsiveness, with a greater number of fathers' FPP predictive of these behaviors. Although similarities exist between mothers and fathers, these findings suggest that fathers likely exert a unique influence on their children's eating behaviors and stress the need for interventions to account for the role each parent plays promoting healthy eating habits.

Keywords: Emotional overeating; Fathers; Food fussiness; Food parenting practices; Food responsiveness; Satiety responsiveness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Fathers*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers*
  • Parenting
  • Surveys and Questionnaires