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Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: A systematic review of responsive feeding and child obesity in high-income countries

item Hurley, Kristen
item Cross, Matthew
item Hughes, Sheryl

Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/12/2009
Publication Date: 3/12/2010
Citation: Hurley, K.M., Cross, M.B., Hughes, S.O. 2010. A systematic review of responsive feeding and child obesity in high-income countries. Journal of Nutrition. 141:495-501.

Interpretive Summary: This article reviewed the findings of 31 articles published between 1995 and 2010 that looked at the relationships between responsive feeding (mothers responding to their children in an appropriate and sympathetic way around food) and childhood obesity in high-income countries (i.e., United States, Europe, and Australia). Most of the studies found relationships between nonresponsive feeding and whether children were overweight. The most common findings across studies were associations between not allowing children to eat certain foods and higher weight status and pressuring the child to eat and lower weight status. The majority of the studies were conducted in the United States, and a trend toward conducting research on child feeding with infants and toddlers and with more ethnically and socioeconomically diverse samples. Additional research is needed to better understand the relationships between responsive feeding and child weigth status in high income countries.

Technical Abstract: Child overweight/obesity continues to be a serious public health problem in high-income countries. The current review had 3 goals: 1) to summarize the associations between responsive feeding and child weight status in high-income countries; 2) to describe existing responsive feeding measures; and 3) to generate suggestions for future research. Articles were obtained from PubMed and PsycInfo using specified search criteria. The majority (24/31) of articles reported significant associations between nonresponsive feeding and child weight-for-height Z-score, BMI Z-score, overweight/obesity, or adiposity. Most studies identified were conducted exclusively in the United States (n = 22), were cross-sectional (n = 25), and used self-report feeding questionnaires (n = 28). A recent trend exists toward conducting research among younger children (i.e. infants and toddlers) and low-income and/or minority populations. Although current evidence suggests that nonresponsive feeding is associated with child BMI or overweight/obesity, more research is needed to understand causality, the reliability and validity between and within existing feeding measures, and to test the efficacy of responsive feeding interventions in the prevention and treatment of child overweight/obesity in high-income countries.