EVIDENCE THAT DIETING PARENTS (MOTHERS) INFLICT FOOD RESTRICTION ON THEIR CHILDREN
Depending on the question, from 34% to 65% of girls aged 5 years had ideas about dieting. Compared to girls whose mothers did not diet, girls whose mothers reported current or recent dieting were more than twice as likely to have ideas about dieting, suggesting that mothers’ dieting behaviour is a source of young girls’ ideas, concepts, and beliefs about dieting. Among mothers, more than 90% reported recent dieting, and most reported use of both health-promoting and health-compromising dieting behaviours.
Parental feeding styles may promote overeating or overweight in children. A comprehensive literature review was undertaken to summarize the associations between parental feeding styles and child eating and weight status. Twenty-two studies were identified. We systematically coded study attributes and outcomes and tested for patterns of association. Nineteen studies (86%) reported at least one significant association between parental feeding style and child outcome, although study methodology and results varied considerably. Studies measuring parental feeding restriction, as opposed to general feeding control or another feeding domain, were more likely to report positive associations with child eating and weight status. Parental feeding restriction, but no other feeding domain, was associated with increased child eating and weight status.
Results: In both experiments, restricting access to a palatable food increased children’s behavioural response to that food. Experiment 2 showed that restricting access increased children’s subsequent selection and intake of that food within the restricted context.
Conclusions: Restricting access focuses children’s attention on restricted foods, while increasing their desire to obtain and consume those foods. Restricting children’s access to palatable foods is not an effective means of promoting moderate intake of palatable foods and may encourage the intake of foods that should be limited in the diet.
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