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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Child overweight in rural America: the role of parent feeding styles

item Hennessy, Erin
item Hughes, Sheryl
item Goldberg, Jeanne
item Hyatt, Raymond
item Economos, Christina

Submitted to: Obesity
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/3/2008
Publication Date: 10/3/2008
Citation: Hennessy, E., Hughes, S.O., Goldberg, J., Hyatt, R., Economos, C. 2008. Child overweight in rural America: the role of parent feeding styles [abstract]. Obesity. 16(Suppl.1):S55.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Evidence from studies conducted in urban and suburban areas suggest that caregivers, through their parenting styles, influence a child’s weight. In rural areas, where the prevalence of obesity is 25% higher than in more densely populated regions, the role of the caregiver has not been adequately studied. This study aims to describe the feeding styles of low income, ethnically diverse rural parents and to examine the relationship between feeding styles and child weight status. We collected cross-sectional data from a multi-ethnic sample (29% White, 49% Black, 22% Hispanic) of 99 parent-child dyads. Eighty eight percent of the parents were mothers and 61% of the children were girls. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from measured height and weight for each dyad. Child BMI was transformed into z-scores using the Center for Disease Control (CDC) age and sex-specific reference standards. Overweight was defined as greater than or equal to 85th percentile for children and a BMI of greater than or equal to 25 for parents. Parents self-reported their demographic characteristics. Information about feeding styles was obtained through the Caregiver Feeding Styles Questionnaire (CFSQ). Children were 9.0 +/- 1.5 years old (mean +/- SD). BMI z-score was 1.2 +/- 0.9; 60% percent were overweight. There was no significant difference in BMI z-score by gender or race/ethnicity. Parent’s BMI was 32.3 +/- 8.6 corresponding to 24% overweight, 33% obese, and 19% extremely obesity. The majority of parents exhibited an indulgent feeding style (37.4%) followed by authoritarian (26.3%), uninvolved (21.2%) and authoritative (15.2%). Authoritative parents had a lower mean BMI than uninvolved parents (27.9 vs. 36.5, p less than 0.02). Using multiple linear regression, an indulgent feeding style significantly predicted a child’s BMIz-score (beta =.34, 95% CI:.06, 1.32) while controlling for child gender, age, and race/ethnicity, and parent BMI, age, gender, education, marital status, and employment. To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies of low income families living in rural areas to demonstrate an effect of parent feeding styles on children’s weight status. Additional research is warranted and if these findings are confirmed, parent feeding style may be a potentially modifiable risk factor in obesity prevention.

Last Modified: 06/25/2017
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