The role of parental control practices in explaining children's diet and BMI

Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, UK.
Appetite (Impact Factor: 2.69). 03/2008; 50(2-3):252-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2007.07.010
Source: PubMed


This paper aimed to investigate which parents use which types of parenting control practices to manage their children's diets and to assess the impact of these practices on children's dietary patterns and their BMI. A cross-sectional survey of 518 parents with children aged 4-7 years was carried out in 18 primary schools across the South of England. Measures included aspects of parental control practices and the child's diet. Results showed that older parents with a lower BMI and who were stay at home parents used more "snack overt control", "snack covert control" and "meal covert control" and those with more education used more covert control strategies. In contrast, male, non-white parents with younger children used more "pressure to eat". In terms of the children's diet, the results showed links between parental and child demographics and aspects of unhealthy and healthy food intake. In addition, links were also found for parental control practices. For example, eating more unhealthy snacks was related to less covert control and more pressure to eat, eating fruit and vegetables was related to higher levels of both overt and covert control over meals and less pressure to eat and being neophobic was related to less covert control over meals and more pressure to eat. The children's BMIs were unrelated to any variables measured in the study.

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    • "We found a longitudinal association between using an overt style of controlling children's diet and child food neophobia. In a cross-sectional study by Brown et al., higher child food neophobia was not associated with mothers use of more overt control but it was associated with higher levels of 'pressure to eat' (Brown et al., 2008). However, in a Table 2 Associations between overt and covert control, child food neophobia and changes in overt and covert control, and children's quality of diet at baseline and follow-up. "
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    ABSTRACT: The practices mothers adopt in relation to feeding their children have been identified as important predictors of children's quality of diet. However, most studies of the impact of these practices on quality of children's diets have been cross-sectional in design, limiting conclusions about change and causality. Previous research has called for qualitative exploration of the way these practices are used in a real-life setting. This study set out to address these gaps in knowledge. At baseline, mothers recruited to a community-based intervention study and who had a preschool child, completed a questionnaire about their use of covert and overt control practices, child food neophobia and demographics. The quality of children's diets was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire Both questionnaires were repeated with the mothers two years later. Complete data at both time points were available for 228 mother-child pairs. Four focus group discussions were conducted with 29 mothers of preschool children to explore their experiences of feeding young children. Mothers who increased their use of overt control had children whose level of food neophobia also increased (P=0.02). Mothers who used more covert control had children with better quality diets at both time points (P=<0.01) and mothers who increased their use of covert control over the two year follow-up had children whose diet quality improved (P=0.003). These associations were independent of confounders such as mother's level of education. In the focus groups, mothers suggested that feeding young children was stressful and that control was often relinquished in order to reduce conflict at mealtimes. Supporting parents to adopt more covert techniques to control their children's eating habits may be an effective way of improving the quality of young children's diets. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Appetite
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    • "In support of this contention, older mothers are more likely to breastfeed (Meedya et al., 2010), and there is evidence that breastfeeding may be protective against obesity in childhood and beyond (Anzman et al., 2010). In addition, older parents are more likely to actively control their children's diet, although this has not been shown to have an effect on BMI (Brown et al., 2008). Further, while there is evidence that parental support increases physical activity levels in their children (Anderssen and Wold, 1992), it is not clear if this support varies with parental age. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective To assess the effect of parental age at childbirth on insulin sensitivity and other metabolic outcomes in overweight middle-aged males.Methods We studied 73 men aged 46.0±5.4 years, who were overweight (body mass index, BMI 25-30 kg/m2) but otherwise healthy. Insulin sensitivity was assessed by the Matsuda method from an oral glucose tolerance test. Other assessments included dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry-derived body composition, lipid profile, 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure, and carotid intima-media thickness. Maternal and paternal ages were highly correlated (r = 0.71; P < 0.0001), and the main parameter of interest in this study was the mean parental age at childbirth (MPAC), calculated as the average of maternal and paternal ages.ResultsIncreasing MPAC was associated with a continuous increase in insulin sensitivity (β = 0.193; P = 0.008), as well as reductions in insulin resistance (HOMA-IR; β = −0.064; P = 0.011), fasting insulin (β = −0.221; P = 0.018) and fasting glucose (β = −0.030; P = 0.033) concentrations. Increasing MPAC was also associated with reductions in night time systolic (β = −0.500; P = 0.020) and diastolic (β = −0.325; P = 0.047) blood pressure, as well as with improved (greater) nocturnal diastolic blood pressure dipping (β = 0.413; P = 0.046). Subgroup analyses on participants of European descent (n = 64) showed that increasing MPAC was associated with reduced carotid intima-media thickness (β = −0.008; P = 0.018) and lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations (β = −0.042; P = 0.028).Conclusions Increasing parental age at childbirth was associated with a more favorable metabolic phenotype in overweight middle-aged males. However, it is unknown whether the effect was maternal, paternal, or both. Future studies on the effects of parental age at childbirth on the metabolism of males and females across the BMI range are required. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 27:380-386, 2015. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · American Journal of Human Biology
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    • "For example, greater intake of healthy snacking was related to overt control while decreased unhealthy snacking was related to covert control (Brown, Ogden, Vogele, & Gibson, 2008; Ogden et al., 2006). Parents with higher education used covert control practices more often (Brown et al., 2008). In a recent longitudinal study, both forms of control predicted unhealthy snacking as they both were negatively associated with the intake. "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction Overt and covert control are novel constructs representing two different parental feeding practices with regard to the child’s ability to detect them. Preliminary research indicates that covert control is linked to healthier diet and lower child weight status. In this study, we report the first psychometric validation of the original measures of overt and covert control outside the UK in a large sample of parents of preschoolers. Methods Based on records from the population register, all mothers of 4-year-olds (n = 3 007) from the third largest city in Sweden, Malmö, were contacted by mail. Out of those, 876 returned the measures of overt and covert control together with a background questionnaire and the Child Feeding Questionnaire (CFQ). Test-retest data were obtained from 64% (n = 563) of these mothers. The mean age of the mothers was 35.6 years; their mean BMI was 24.1, 31.5% were overweight or obese. The children were on average 4.5 years old; 48 % were girls, 12.8% were overweight or obese. Results While the fit for the original 9-item 2-factor model was poor, shorter 8- and 6-item version were supported by confirmatory factor analysis (CFI > 0.95, RMSEA < 0.05). Internal and test-retest reliability of the shorter version was good (ICC = 0.65-0.71). Results also suggest that the factor structure and loadings were invariant (i.e., did not significantly differ) overtime and between child sexes. Both overt and covert control factors were moderately correlated with CFQ monitoring. Overt control was also moderately related to CFQ pressure and weakly correlated with CFQ restriction. Covert control, on the other hand, was moderately related to restriction and not related with pressure. Correlations of both factors with child and parent BMI were very small. Conclusion We found good psychometric properties of a 6-item version of the overt and control behaviors in a multiethnic sample of mothers from Sweden. Future studies need to establish causal associations between overt and covert control and the obesity related outcomes.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Eating Behaviors
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