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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT AND PREVENTION OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Feeding behaviors of low-income mothers: Directive control relateds to a lower BMI in children, and a nondirective control relates to a healthier diet in preschoolers

Authors
item Murashima, Megumi -
item Hoerr, Sharon -
item Hughes, Sheryl -
item Kaplowitz, Stan -

Submitted to: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 3, 2012
Publication Date: March 28, 2012
Citation: Murashima, M., Hoerr, S.L., Hughes, S.O., Kaplowitz, S.A. 2012. Feeding behaviors of low-income mothers: Directive control relates to a lower BMI in children, and a nondirective control relates to a healthier diet in preschoolers. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 95(5):1031-1037.

Interpretive Summary: A topic of interest in the etiology of child obesity is whether and how parental feeding behaviors are associated with the food intake and weight status of children. Parenting practices where parents put external, observable pressure on the child to eat a healthy diet were considered to be "directive control." Practices where parents motivated the child to eat a healthy diet through praising, asking questions, and organizing the home food environment were considered to be "nondirective control." It was discovered that mothers' use of nondirective feeding practices was associated with child intake of healthier foods. However, use of more directive feeding control was associated with lower weight status in preschoolers of low-income mothers. In this low-income group, the mothers' directive feeding control was associated with lower BMIs in their children, and nondirective feeding control was associated with nutritious food intakes in the children. Further investigations in longitudinal studies to explain the paths between these relations can inform parental feeding guidelines to help improve children's diet quality and reduce child obesity.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to explore whether and how directive (external, observable pressure on the child to eat a healthy diet) and nondirective (motivating the child to eat a healthy diet through praising, asking questions, and organizing the home food environment) type of parental feeding control were associated with children's food intake and weight status. This was a cross-sectional exploratory study to determine directional associations between maternal feeding practices and children's food intake and weight status. Researchers collected data from 330 dyads of children aged 3–5 y and mothers participating in a federal preschool program for low-income families (Head Start) in Michigan. The mothers' feeding practices (directive and nondirective control), the children's food intakes, and the height and weight of both the mothers and children were measured. It was discovered that the mothers' use of nondirective feeding practices was associated with children's intakes of more nutrient-dense foods. However, use of more directive feeding control was associated with lower weight status in preschoolers of low-income mothers.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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