Parent feeding behavior and child appetite: Associations depend on feeding style

Susan Carnell, Leora Benson, Elissa Driggin, Laura Kolbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Eating behavior traits measured in early life predict eating behavior and weight trajectories later in development, and may be associated with certain parental feeding behaviors. Our goal was to investigate the relationship between a range of feeding behaviors, and preschoolers' appetitive traits.

Method Four hundred thirty-nine parents of UK 3-5 year olds completed scales measuring authoritarian vs. authoritative forms of limiting (Restriction vs. Monitoring) and promoting (Pressuring vs. Prompting) intake, as well as Emotional and Instrumental Feeding. Parents also completed scales measuring child Food responsiveness and Satiety responsiveness. Child BMI z-scores were calculated based on measured heights and weights.

Results Parental Restriction was significantly associated with greater child Food responsiveness (p < .001), but parental Monitoring was not. Parental Pressuring was significantly associated with greater child Satiety responsiveness (p < .001), while parental Prompting was not. Parental Instrumental and Emotional feeding were both associated with greater child Food responsiveness (p < .001). All relationships were independent of child BMI z-score.

Discussion Prospective data are needed to determine whether the parent-child feeding relationships identified here promote, or protect against, the development of eating pathology in children. However, our results suggest that cross-sectional associations depend on the style (e.g., authoritarian vs. authoritative), as well as the type of feeding behavior measured.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)705-709
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • intake regulation
  • maternal feeding
  • nonnutritive feeding
  • overfeeding
  • parental control over feeding
  • pressure to eat
  • restrictive feeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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