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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Effects of children's self-regulation of eating on parental feeding practices and child weight

item Cross, Matthew
item Hallett, Allen
item Ledoux, Tracey
item O'connor, Daniel
item Hughes, Sheryl

Submitted to: Appetite
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/9/2014
Publication Date: 6/12/2014
Citation: Cross, M.B., Hallett, A.M., Ledoux, T.A., O'Connor, D.P., Hughes, S.O. 2014. Effects of children's self-regulation of eating on parental feeding practices and child weight. Appetite. 81:76-83.

Interpretive Summary: Overweight and obesity is associated with increased risk of chronic diseases and premature death among minority children. The prevalence of overweight and obesity are markedly higher in Mexican American and non-Hispanic black preschool-aged (2–5 years) children relative to their non-Hispanic white counterparts. Health disparities by race/ethnicity are exacerbated by behaviors acquired in early life. This study indicates that although children's ability to respond appropriately to fullness cues mediated the relationship between pressuring to eat more food by mothers and children's weight status in an African American sample, children's satiety responsiveness did not mediate this relationship in a Hispanic sample. Therefore, gaining a better understanding of racial/ethnic differences in feeding practices and using questionnaires developed specifically for minority groups may help better tailor interventions aimed at understanding the role of mothers in the development of self-regulation in eating and their associations with overweight and obesity in preschool-age children.

Technical Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine whether self-regulation of eating in minority preschool-aged children mediates the relationship between parent feeding practices and child weight. Participants low-income African American and Hispanic parents and their preschool-aged children who participated in Head Start. Parents completed questionnaires about controlling feeding practices (pressure to eat, restriction) and children's appetitive characteristics (enjoyment of food, food responsiveness, satiety responsiveness). Path analyses were used to determine whether children's self-regulation of eating mediated the relationship between feeding practices and child weight. Greater satiety responsiveness in African American preschool-age children partially mediated the inverse association between pressure to eat and children's weight. Enjoyment of food and food responsiveness did not mediate the relationship between pressure to eat and weight in the African American nor did appetitive characteristics mediate the relationship between restriction and child weight. Appetitive characteristics did not mediate the relationship between controlling feeding practices and child weight in the Hispanic sample. Implications include the need for culturally sensitive self-report measures and for researchers to account for the possible effects of racial/ethnic differences when designing interventions.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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