Food parenting practices are recognized as important determinants for child eating behavior. Fathers are underrepresented in studies regarding food parenting and child health; thus, studies are needed that include both mothers and fathers.
Compare the relationships between food parenting practices and child eating behavior among mothers and fathers of young children.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
This cross-sectional study recruited mothers (n = 127) and fathers (n = 118) of children (4.2 ± 1.3 years old) to complete surveys (face-to-face and online).
Each parent completed the Comprehensive Food Parenting Questionnaire, Children's Eating Behavior Questionnaire, and demographic questions. Linear regression was used to compare the relationships between parental food parenting practices (independent variable) and children's eating behaviors (dependent variable). Parent gender was used as moderator, and child age and gender served as control variables in each regression.
Parent gender was a significant moderator in several relationships between parent food parenting practices and child eating behavior. In the relationship between parental restriction for health (ß = -.14, P = .014) and monitoring (ß = -.13, P = .028) and child slowness in eating, the slope of the interaction was significantly higher for mothers, meaning that when mothers and fathers use the same level of restriction for health and monitoring, child slowness in eating is higher for children of mothers. When mothers and fathers used the same level of restriction for weight, child food responsiveness (ß = .13, P = .003) and emotional overeating (ß = .12, P = .046) was significantly higher for children of fathers
There may be differences in how mothers and fathers implement food parenting practices and/or differences in how these practices impact children. Specifically, for fathers, it seems that the use of restriction for weight is more detrimental for children's eating behaviors compared to when mothers use the same level of restriction for weight.