Date of Award

Fall 12-2014

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Natalie Williams

Committee Chair Department

Child and Family Studies

Committee Member 2

Tammy Barry

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Sara Sytsma Jordan

Committee Member 3 Department



Research investigating determinants of obesity risk during early childhood highlights the role of children’s eating behaviors as well as food-related parenting practices. Compared with the vast literature on parent feeding practices, little is known regarding parent feeding styles, and the mechanisms through which child eating behaviors and parent feeding styles influence child body mass index (BMI) remain poorly understood. The current study addressed this gap in the literature by a) describing the prevalence and correlates of parent feeding styles in a sample of mothers residing in the southern United States and b) exploring associations among child eating behaviors, parent feeding styles, and child BMI. Participants included 128 mothers (M age = 32.0, SD = 5.01) with preschoolers (64 male, 64 female, M age = 3.76, SD = 0.71). Results indicated that the prevalence of each feeding style in this sample closely parallels the distribution reported in previous studies and is not related to maternal socio-demographic characteristics and mothers’ or children’s BMI. Higher child appetitive traits and lower satiety responsiveness were associated with higher child BMI. Children with high levels of emotional eating were more likely to have a higher BMI, but only in the presence of an uninvolved parent feeding style. An uninvolved feeding style also moderated the association between fussiness and child BMI, with higher levels of fussy child eating behavior associated with lower child BMI. More research is needed to elucidate the interactions among child eating behaviors and parent feeding styles in the prediction of child obesity risk.

Included in

Psychology Commons