Associations Between Adult Attachment Style, Emotion Regulation, and Preschool Children's Food Consumption
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.
Available from: Chiara Pazzagli
- "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.
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ABSTRACT: Consistent results have shown a relationship between the psychological world of children and their perceived parental bonding or family attachment style, but to date there is no single measure covering both styles. The authors designed a statement matrix with 116 items for this purpose and compared it with the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI) in a study with 718 university students. After exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, five factors (scales)-namely, Paternal/Maternal Encouragement (5 items each), Paternal/Maternal Abuse (5 items each), Paternal/Maternal Freedom Release (5 items each), General Attachment (5 items), and Paternal/Maternal Dominance (4 items each)-were defined to form a Family Relationship Questionnaire (FRQ). The internal alphas of the factors ranged from .64 to .83, and their congruency coefficients were .93 to .98 in samples regarding father and mother. Women scored significantly higher on FRQ General Attachment and Maternal Encouragement and lower on Paternal Abuse than men did; only children scored significantly higher on Paternal and Maternal Encouragements than children with siblings did. Women also scored significantly higher on PBI Paternal Autonomy Denial; only children scored significantly higher on Paternal and Maternal Cares and Maternal Autonomy Denial. All intercorrelations between FRQ scales were low to medium, and some correlations between FRQ and PBI scales were medium to high. This study demonstrates that the FRQ has a structure of five factors with satisfactory discriminant and convergent validities, which might help to characterize family relationships in healthy and clinical populations. (Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 79, 232-254).
Available from: Barbara H Fiese
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Traditional research primarily details child obesity from a risk perspective. Risk factors are disproportionately higher in children raised in poverty, thus negatively influencing the weight status of low-income children. Borrowing from the field of family studies, the concept of family resiliency might provide a unique perspective for discussions regarding childhood obesity, by helping to identify mediating or moderating protective mechanisms that are present within the family context.
A thorough literature review focusing on (1) components of family resiliency that could be related to childhood obesity and (2) factors implicated in childhood obesity beyond those related to energy balance was conducted. We then conceptualized our perspective that understanding resiliency within an obesogenic environment is warranted.
Both family resiliency and childhood obesity prevention rely on the assumptions that (1) no one single answer can address the multifactorial nature involved with adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors and (2) the pieces in this complex puzzle will differ between families. Yet, there are limited holistic studies connecting family resiliency measures and childhood obesity prevention. Combining mixed methodology using traditional measures (such as general parenting styles, feeding styles, and parent feeding behaviors) with potential family resiliency measures (such as family routines, family stress, family functioning, and family structure) might serve to broaden understanding of protective strategies.
The key to future success in child obesity prevention and treatment may be found in the application of the resiliency framework to the exploration of childhood obesity from a protective perspective focusing on the family context.
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