Parental Influence on Eating Behavior: Conception to Adolescence

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States
The Journal of Law Medicine & Ethics (Impact Factor: 1.1). 02/2007; 35(1):22-34. DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-720X.2007.00111.x
Source: PubMed


The first years of life mark a time of rapid development and dietary change, as children transition from an exclusive milk diet to a modified adult diet. During these early years, children's learning about food and eating plays a central role in shaping subsequent food choices, diet quality, and weight status. Parents play a powerful role in children's eating behavior, providing both genes and environment for children. For example, they influence children's developing preferences and eating behaviors by making some foods available rather than others, and by acting as models of eating behavior. In addition, parents use feeding practices, which have evolved over thousands of years, to promote patterns of food intake necessary for children's growth and health. However in current eating environments, characterized by too much inexpensive palatable, energy dense food, these traditional feeding practices can promote overeating and weight gain. To meet the challenge of promoting healthy weight in children in the current eating environment, parents need guidance regarding alternatives to traditional feeding practices.

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Available from: Jennifer S Savage
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    • "Children's eating behaviours develop from their early social interactions surrounding feeding (Savage, Fisher, & Birch, 2007), and it is generally accepted that children are predisposed to have a preference for sweet and salty tastes and reject those that are sour or bitter (Drewnowski, 1997). Savage et al. suggest that children's likes and dislikes for foods which have a less intrinsic allure are more likely to be determined by the social contexts in which they experience them (Savage et al., 2007). If a food, given to a child for the first time, is rejected and the response of the mother is to place pressure on the child to eat it, then this is likely to result in a negative mealtime environment. "
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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
    • "in the home has been positively related (Stockmyer 2001;Hill 2002;Neumark-Sztainer 2005;Savage et al. 2007;Krølner et al. 2011) to adolescent fruit and vegetable consumption, although one review found no relationship (Pearson et al. 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: The prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in adulthood is rapidly increasing, and it is essential that risk factors for NCDs be addressed in adolescence, both for the health of individuals during adolescence and for their health in later life. These risk factors include diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviour. No literature has been published that comprehensively summarizes the impact of social norms and social support on these behaviours among adolescents. Therefore, a scoping review was conducted to determine the extent of recent (since 2000) literature available on this topic. A comprehensive search strategy was used to search PubMed and EMBASE for eligible reviews. Review papers (narrative reviews, systematic and non-systematic reviews) published in English in peer-reviewed journals from 2000 to February 2013 were included in the overview. Two of the authors screened the titles and abstracts of the search results independently. Thirty reviews were included in the scoping review. This scoping review has shown sufficient evidence for parental influences, and especially the positive impact of an authoritative parenting style, on healthy behaviours of adolescents, although the evidence is somewhat more compelling for diet than for physical activity and sedentary behaviour. More research is needed to investigate parental and family influences on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. And the effect of peer influences on diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviour of adolescents requires further investigation. The evidence presented affirms the consideration of social norms and social support in the development of interventions to address these behaviours in adolescents. The evidence regarding parenting style provides some concrete guidance for such interventions. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Child Care Health and Development
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    • "In addition, excessive parental control over feeding such as restriction or pressure to eat may be adversely associated with under-or overfeeding, respectively, potentially leading to feeding problems (Farrow and Blissett, 2006b; Johnson and Birch, 1994). Other studies suggest that lower levels of feeding behaviour control promote healthier eating behaviours in childhood (Faith et al., 2004; Fisher and Birch, 1999; Savage et al., 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: We examined mealtime interactions to assess whether they varied according to maternal body mass index, country and mode of feeding in 41 Israeli and UK mother-infant dyads. Feeding behaviours were coded using the Simple Feeding Element Scale. Significantly, more UK mothers breastfed during the filmed meal compared to Israeli mothers. Mealtime interactions did not vary according to maternal body mass index or country. Women who breastfed (as opposed to those who bottle fed or fed solids) provided fewer distractions during the meal, a more ideal feeding environment and fed more responsively.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015
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