Controlling parental feeding practices and child body composition in ethnically and economically diverse preschool children

Sarah E. Wehrly, Chantal Bonilla, Marisol Perez La Mar, Jeffrey Liew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Controlling parental feeding practices may be associated with childhood overweight, because coercive or intrusive feeding practices may negatively impact children's development of self-regulation of eating. This study examined pressuring or forcing a child (healthy or unhealthy foods) and restricting child from unhealthy or snack foods as two types of controlling feeding practices that explain unique variances in measures of child body composition (BMI, percent body fat, and parental perception of child weight). In an ethnically and economically diverse sample of 243 children aged 4-6. years old and their biological parents (89% biological mothers, 8% biological fathers, and 3% step or grand-parent), descriptive statistics indicate ethnic and family income differences in measures of feeding practices and child body composition. Additionally, the two "objective" indices of body composition (BMI and percent body fat) were related to low pressure to eat, whereas the "subjective" index (perceived child weight) was related to restriction. Regression analyses accounting for ethnic and family income influences indicate that pressure to eat and restriction both explained unique variances in the two "objective" indices of body composition, whereas only restriction explained variance in perceived child weight. Findings have implications for helping parents learn about feeding practices that promote children's self-regulation of eating that simultaneously serves as an obesity prevention strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-171
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014


  • Childhood obesity
  • Ethnicity
  • Feeding practices
  • Poverty
  • Pressure to eat
  • Restriction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Controlling parental feeding practices and child body composition in ethnically and economically diverse preschool children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this