Associations Between Adult Attachment Style, Emotion Regulation, and Preschool Children's Food Consumption

Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics: JDBP (Impact Factor: 2.13). 01/2014; 35(1):50-61. DOI: 10.1097/01.DBP.0000439103.29889.18
Source: PubMed


The goal of this study was to test 3 serial mediation models of how caregiver adult attachment style influences children's food consumption through its influence on emotion regulation. Three mediators that have been shown to increase the risk for pediatric obesity and that are likely to be influenced by negative emotion regulation strategies in everyday family interactions were chosen: (1) caregiver feeding practices (2) family mealtime routines, and (3) child television (TV) viewing.
A total of 497 primary caregivers of 2.5- to 3.5-year-old children reported on their own attachment style, typical responses to their children's negative affect, feeding styles, mealtime and TV viewing routines, and their children's consumption of healthful and unhealthful foods.
Insecure mothers were more likely to use punishing or dismissing responses to their children's negative affect, and negative emotion regulation predicted the increased use of emotion-related feeding styles and fewer mealtime routines. These variables, in turn, were found to predict children's unhealthful food consumption, documenting serial mediational influences. With respect to TV viewing, caregiver insecurity influenced child food consumption indirectly through its direct effect on child TV viewing.
Taken together, these data suggest that insecure attachment may put parents at a risk for using negative emotion regulation strategies in response to their children's distress, which may also have important implications for the interpersonal environment surrounding food and the development of children's early eating behaviors.

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    • "Similarly, fathers' insecure attachment was related to the severity of the problem. Consistent with the findings of Bost et al. (2014), insecurely attached parents may use negative regulation strategies in response to child distress, with important consequences for interpersonal contexts involving food and the development of children's eating behaviors. Findings for our sample indicated that secure attachment appeared to be a protective factor because children of secure mothers and fathers exhibited the lowest BMIs. "
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    ABSTRACT: Within the research area on the determinants of childhood obesity, a relatively new approach is the use of attachment theory to explore the mechanisms underlying children's obesity risk, especially considered as emotion regulation strategies in parent-child relationship. Few are the empirical researches that have addressed this issue. The empirical investigations have used self-report measures to assess adult attachment. In attachment studies, the use of interview methods and/or performance-based instruments is advised to evaluate the entire range of possible adult attachment patterns and comprehensively explain the emotional strategies, correlates, and consequences of individual differences in attachment system functioning. The aim of this study was to explore the extent to which both parents' attachment patterns serve as self-regulative mechanisms related to childhood overweight/obesity by the Adult Attachment Projective Picture System (AAP) in a sample of 44 mothers and fathers of children referred for obesity. Insecure attachment was found as a risk factor both for mothers and fathers. Also unresolved/disorganization was found to play a significant role in childhood obesity. The role of father's attachment was explored and findings suggested considering it in etiology and treatment of childhood obesity.
    Frontiers in Psychology 07/2014; 5:791. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00791 · 2.80 Impact Factor

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