Relationship between parental feeding practices and weight status in a lower socioeconomic pre-school population

Kathleen A Brewer, The University of Texas School of Public Health


High prevalence of overweight and obesity among preschool children in the low income population is consistently documented in research with one of every seven low-income, preschool-aged children classified as obese. Parental feeding practices have the potential to be contributing factors to the obesity epidemic. However, the impact of parental feeding practices on obesity in preschool age children has not been well explored. The purpose of this study was to determine relationships between the parental feeding practices of using dessert, sweets or candy as a reward for finishing foods, restricting dessert if the child does not finish their plate at dinner, asking the child to consume everything on their plate at dinner, and having family dinners to obesity in low income, preschool age children. A cross-sectional secondary data analysis was completed using the STATA 11 statistical software. Descriptive statistics were completed to summarize demographic and BMI data of participants, as well as parental feeding behavior variables. Pearson’s correlation was implemented to determine a correlation between parental feeding behavior variables and BMI z scores. Predictive relationships between the variables were explored through multivariable linear regression analysis. Regression analyses were also completed factoring in the confounders of gender, age, and ethnicity. Results revealed (1) no significant correlations or predictive trends between the use of rewards, forced consumption, or family dinner and BMI in low income preschool age children, and (2) a significant negative correlation and predictive trend between restriction of desserts and BMI in low income preschool age children. Since the analysis supported the null hypothesis for the practices of reward use, forced consumption, and family dinner, these practices are not considered risk factors for obese level BMIs. The inverse association found for practice of restriction and BMI suggests it is unnecessary to discourage parents from using restriction. Limitations of the study included the sample size, reliability of the answers provided on the Healthy Home Survey by participant guardians, and generalizability of the sample to the larger population.

Subject Area

Nutrition|Public health|Developmental biology

Recommended Citation

Brewer, Kathleen A, "Relationship between parental feeding practices and weight status in a lower socioeconomic pre-school population" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1479824.