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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Hughes, Sheryl
item Anderson, Cheryl
item Power, Thomas
item Micheli, Nilda
item Jaramillo, Sandra
item Nicklas, Theresa

Submitted to: Trade Journal Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/6/2006
Publication Date: 3/1/2006
Citation: Hughes, S.O., Anderson, C.B., Power, T.G., Micheli, N., Jaramillo, S,, Nicklas, T.A. 2006. Measuring feeding in low-income African-American and Hispanic parents. Appetite. 46(2):215-223.

Interpretive Summary: Most studies looking at parental feeding have focused on parents' concern over children's weight and the amount of control and restriction used to make sure their children don't become overweight. However, some ethnic groups such as African-Americans and Hispanics are not overly concerned about their children's weight. In fact, sometimes having heavier children is considered better in these two ethnic groups. Our study looked at the various ways, in general, that parents get their children to eat and determined if those ways were different for African-Americans and Hispanics. A total of 231 low-income Head Start parents participated in the study. Differences were found between African-American and Hispanic parents in the way they get their children to eat. Hispanic parents used more strategies to get their children to eat compared to African-American parents including high control such as spoon-feeding and gentler approaches such as reasoning with the child or saying something positive about the food. Understanding how parents get their children to eat is important because of the current public health concern over the increase in the weight status of children in the past twenty years, especially among African-Americans and Hispanics.

Technical Abstract: Current feeding measures have been developed based on the premise that a child's obesity risk is increased when parents exert high levels of control over feeding. Although these measures provide useful ways to assess parental restrictiveness in feeding, they do not capture other important aspects of feeding that describe the behavior of parents not overly concerned about child obesity. Alternative measures are important to develop, especially for minority populations where concerns about child obesity are often not a significant determinant of parental feeding practices. The current study describes a culturally informed method used to develop a broader assessment of parental feeding strategies across two low-income ethnic groups. To be able to accurately measure cultural differences associated with feeding, qualitative and quantitative methods were used to assure conceptual, linguistic, and measurement equivalency across African–American and Hispanic parents. Based on responses from 231 parents, mean differences in feeding strategies were found with Hispanic parents reporting significantly more parent-centered/high control and child-centered feeding strategies compared to African–Americans. Furthermore, the relationship between children's weight status and parental feeding strategies varied by the two ethnic groups and child gender. Implications of these results for understanding the role of parental socialization in the development of child obesity are discussed.

Last Modified: 06/21/2017
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