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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Child temperament, parent affect, and feeding in normal and overweight preschool children

item Hughes, Sheryl
item Anderson, Cheryl
item Swanson, Marilyn
item Shewchuk, Richard

Submitted to: Annals of Behavioral Medicine
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2008
Publication Date: 3/26/2008
Citation: Hughes, S.O., Anderson, C., Swanson, M., Shewchuk, R. 2008. Child temperament, parent affect, and feeding in normal and overweight preschool children [abstract]. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. Poster D158. 35(Suppl 1):S213.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Despite overwhelming evidence showing that parent emotional affect impacts parenting directives and child outcomes, little research has focused on the influence of parent affect on feeding as a mechanism in shaping children's eating patterns. Utilizing an instrument characterizing parent strategies and problems associated with feeding preschool children fruit and vegetables, the inter-relationship between parent affect, child temperament, and strategies and problems were examined. A total of 639 Head Start parents from two sites (Alabama and Texas) completed questionnaires. Measured height and weight determined child body mass index. Structural equation modeling was used to evaluate a feeding model depicting the mediating effects of parent affect on the relationship between child temperament (CT) and feeding strategies and problems. Results showed both a direct and indirect relationship between child inhibitory control (one aspect of CT) and feeding strategies, with the indirect relationship through parent positive affect. Similarly, child negative affectivity (another aspect of CT) was directly related to perceived problems in feeding and indirectly related to problems through parent negative affect. When the model was tested separately in overweight children, no indirect effects of temperament on strategies and problems were observed. However, the total direct and indirect effects of CT on both strategies and problems were significant and larger in the overweight group. The results of this study show the importance of child temperament in the parent/child feeding relationship, regardless of the weight of the child. Results also suggest that parent affect helps explain the link between child temperament and feeding strategies and problems in normal weight children; however, parent affect may not play the same role with overweight children. Findings from this study highlight the importance of child temperament and parent affect on feeding outcomes in low-income families.

Last Modified: 06/28/2017
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