Vegetable parenting practices vary by feeding styles among middle class mothers of young children

Appetite. 2022 Apr 1;171:105850. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2021.105850. Epub 2021 Dec 10.


The optimal approach to feeding preschool children balances expectation setting (demandingness) with responsivity to the child (responsiveness), and ideal feeding practices use environmental structuring and covert, non-directive control strategies while maintaining responsiveness. However, research has not examined the extent to which demandingness and responsiveness in feeding style is concordant with structure, responsiveness and control (directive and non-directive) in feeding practices. We classified the feeding style of 122 parents of preschoolers as authoritative (high demandingness/high responsiveness), authoritarian (high demandingness/low responsiveness), indulgent (low demandingness/high responsiveness), or uninvolved (low demandingness/low responsiveness). Parents reported on their frequency of use of 31 vegetable parenting practices (VPPs), that were classified into the domains of structure, control and responsiveness, and subcategorized as effective (likely to obtain the desired change without increasing child obesity risk) or ineffective (unlikely or increases risk) by expert consensus. We hypothesized that parents with an authoritative feeding style would have the highest effective structure, responsiveness and control VPPs, and the authoritarian style would differ with less responsiveness VPPs. We also hypothesized that the indulgent feeding style would have low levels of structure and control VPPs and high ineffective responsiveness VPPs. As expected, we found that parents with an authoritative feeding style reported using more effective structure and responsiveness VPPs. Surprisingly, parents with an authoritarian feeding style did not have VPPs which differed from those with an authoritative feeding style, and parents with an indulgent feeding style had surprisingly high effective control VPPs. Further research into the similarities and differences between parents' overall approach to feeding and their use of feeding practices related to specific foods is warranted, which may help inform the design of more effective interventions aimed at improving child dietary quality.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mothers
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables*