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Research Project: Preventing the Development of Childhood Obesity

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Maternal feeding styles and child appetitive traits: Direction of effects in Hispanic families with low incomes

Author
item PAPAIOANNOU, MARIA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item MICHELI, NILDA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item POWER, THOMAS - Washington State University
item O'CONNOR, TERESIA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item FISHER, JENNIFER - Temple University
item HUGHES, SHERYL - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)

Submitted to: Childhood Obesity
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/6/2022
Publication Date: 6/2/2022
Citation: Papaioannou, M.A., Micheli, N., Power, T.G., O'Connor, T.M., Fisher, J.O., Hughes, S.O. 2022. Maternal feeding styles and child appetitive traits: Direction of effects in Hispanic families with low incomes. Childhood Obesity. 10:871923. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2022.871923.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2022.871923

Interpretive Summary: Parental feeding behaviors have been related to child eating and weight. Parental feeding includes both goal-oriented feeding practices (such as restriction and pressure to eat) and feeding styles, the broader, more general approach parents use to socialize their children around eating. Despite numerous studies examining feeding and various child outcomes, most studies examine data from a single point in time. This does not allow researchers to determine the causes of the behaviors examined. Additionally, these studies assume that parents are directing the feeding relationship. This view is problematic as it can miss child characteristics that may influence parental feeding directives. To address these gaps, the current study examined the direction of effects between feeding styles and child appetitive traits over time in Hispanic participants with low incomes. A total of 129 Hispanic parents completed questionnaires about their feeding styles and their children’s eating behaviors when their children were 4-5 years old and again when the children were 7-9 years old. Overall, results show that children's eating behaviors may shape parents' approach to feeding. Results also showed that the authoritarian approach (highly directive feeding) may be protective in this population of Hispanic families with low-income levels. Future efforts should further examine how child characteristics may shape the parent-child dynamic. It is important to target this dynamic in childhood obesity prevention programs as it can result in better child outcomes and support public health efforts to reduce obesity among children.

Technical Abstract: Feeding styles of parents have been associated with dietary quality/intake and weight outcomes; however, much of the research to date has been cross sectional and the direction of influence unclear. This prospective longitudinal study evaluated the direction of effects between feeding styles and child appetitive traits over time in a sample of 129 Hispanic parent/child dyads that participated in a larger study. Data analyzed for the current study were collected when the children were 4-5 years old and again at ages 7-9 years. Parents (all mothers) reported on their feeding styles and children's appetitive traits using well-established questionnaires. Cross-lagged panel analyses were used to examine the direction of effects. Fully adjusted models revealed that a number of children's appetitive traits at baseline predicted later feeding styles. A bi-directional relationship was found between authoritarian feeding and satiety responsiveness such that higher satiety responsiveness was associated with authoritarian feeding and vice versa. Lower satiety responsiveness was associated with indulgent feeding, whereas higher food responsiveness was associated with authoritarian feeding. Results show preliminary evidence that children's appetitive traits may shape mothers' approach to child feeding. There is also preliminary support for the protective role of an authoritarian feeding style in the self-regulatory processes around child appetitive traits among this population of Hispanic families with low-income levels. These results warrant continued research given that other studies have shown beneficial outcomes for authoritarian feeding among ethnically diverse families with low incomes.