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Child weight and parental feeding practices: a child-responsive model

Elisabeth Lind Melbye (UiS Business School, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway)
Håvard Hansen (UiS Business School, Univeristy of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




The majority of previous studies on parental feeding practices have focused on the effect of controlling feeding strategies on child eating and weight (i.e. parental influence on children). The present study turns the arrow in the opposite direction, and it aims to test a child-responsive model by exploring the process in which child weight status might influence parental feeding practices, addressing potential mediating effects of parental concern for child weight (i.e. child influence on parents).


A cross-sectional survey was performed among parents of 10- to 12-year olds (n = 963). The survey questionnaire included measures of parental feeding practices and parents’ reports of child weight and height. Stepwise regressions were performed to reveal potential mediating effects of parental concern for child weight status on the associations between child BMI and a wide range of parental feeding practices.


Our results suggest a mediating effect of parental concern for child overweight on the associations between child body mass index and controlling feeding practices such as restriction for weight and health purposes and responsibility for determining child portion sizes.


This study provides an extension of previous research on parental feeding–child weight relationship. It includes a wider spectrum of feeding variables, and integrates parental concern for both child who is overweight and child who is underweight as potential mediators of the associations between child weight and parental feeding practices. Moreover, it has its focus on preadolescent children, while previous studies have focused on infants and young children.



This work was funded by the University of Stavanger. The authors would like to thank participating schools, students and parents. Moreover, they would like to thank Renaa Matbaren and Kino1 for their generous donation of a free restaurant meal and free movie tickets for a lottery among participants.


Melbye, E.L. and Hansen, H. (2015), "Child weight and parental feeding practices: a child-responsive model", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 45 No. 1, pp. 174-188.



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