Ethnic differences in parental feeding behaviors in UK parents of preschoolers

Cihang Gu, Sarah Warkentin, Laís Amaral Mais, Susan Carnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Childhood obesity is prevalent among ethnic minorities in the UK but little is known about parent feeding practices in these populations. We administered questionnaires assessing parental feeding behaviors and perceptions and concerns relating to child weight to White British (n = 271), South Asian (n = 59), and Black Afro-Caribbean (n = 42) parents of UK 3-5 year-olds. Child BMI z-scores were determined from measured heights and weights. South Asian and Black Afro-Caribbean parents exhibited greater pressure to eat than White British parents. Black Afro-Caribbean parents additionally scored higher on instrumental feeding and lower on monitoring, while South Asian parents scored higher on emotional feeding. Black Afro-Caribbean parents reported the greatest concern about both child overweight and underweight. Ethnic differences were unchanged by controlling for perceptions and concerns relating to child weight, or for actual BMI z, parent education, or household income. Exploratory analyses suggested some evidence for sex differences within ethnic groups. For example, South Asian parents of daughters scored higher than White British parents of daughters on emotional feeding, with no ethnic differences apparent for parents of sons. Our findings support considering variation in parent feeding behaviors and weight-related attitudes by parental ethnicity and child sex when developing obesity interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-404
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Child feeding
  • Cultural differences
  • Family feeding practices
  • Maternal feeding practices
  • Parental feeding style
  • Pediatric obesity/overweight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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