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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Patrick, Heather
item Nicklas, Theresa
item Hughes, Sheryl
item Morales, Miriam

Submitted to: Review Article
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/18/2002
Publication Date: 6/1/2005
Citation: Patrick, H., Nicklas, T., Hughes, S.O., Morales, M. 2005. The benefits of authoritative feeding style: caregiver feeding styles and children's food consumption patterns. Appetite. 44:243-249.

Interpretive Summary: The purpose of this research was to develop a better understanding of how parents’ behaviors influence children’s eating habits among African-American (AA) and Hispanic (H) parents and their preschool children. Parents completed questionnaires about how they interact with their children at mealtimes and various aspects of children’s eating habits and experiences (availability of, feeding attempts for, and child’s consumption of dairy, fruit, and vegetables). Results from this study showed that parents who provided some rules but also allowed for some input from their children about mealtime had more fruit and vegetables available in the home for their children. These parents were also more likely to make an effort to get their children to eat healthy foods such as dairy, fruit and vegetables. More importantly, children were more likely to eat dairy and vegetables when their parents provided some rules but also allowed their children to make some choices about food. In contrast, parents who primarily set rules but did not involve their children in making food decisions had fewer fruit and vegetables available for their children, and their children ate fewer vegetables. Overall, results suggest that it may be beneficial for parents to balance setting rules about food with including children in food-related decisions.

Technical Abstract: This research tested the associations between caregiver feeding styles and children's food consumption patterns among African-American (AA) and Hispanic (H) caregivers and their preschool children. Participants were 231 caregivers (101 AA; 130 H) with children enrolled in Head Start. Caregivers completed questionnaires on authoritarian and authoritative feeding styles (Caregiver's Feeding Styles Questionnaire; CFSQ) and various aspects of children's food consumption patterns (availability of, feeding attempts for, and child's consumption of dairy, fruit, and vegetables). Simultaneous multiple regression analyses tested the unique contribution of feeding styles in predicting food consumption patterns. Authoritative feeding was positively associated whereas authoritarian feeding was negatively associated with the availability of fruit and vegetables. Authoritative feeding was also positively associated with attempts to get the child to eat dairy, fruit, and vegetables, and reported child consumption of dairy and vegetables. Authoritarian feeding was negatively associated with child's vegetable consumption. All results remained significant after controlling for child's gender and body mass index (BMI), and caregiver's ethnicity, BMI, and level of education. Overall, results provide evidence for the benefits of authoritative feeding and suggest that interventions to increase children's consumption of dairy, fruit, and vegetables should be targeted toward increasing caregivers' authoritative feeding behaviors.

Last Modified: 05/26/2017
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