Parent-child feeding interactions: The Influence of Child Cognitions and Parental Feeding Behaviors on Child Healthy Eating
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Original versionParent-child feeding interactions: The Influence of Child Cognitions and Parental Feeding Behaviors on Child Healthy Eating by Elisabeth Lind Melbye, Stavanger : University of Stavanger, 2012 (PhD thesis UiS, no. 158)
With the increasing prevalence of child and adolescent overweight and obesity in mind, the main objective of this thesis is to contribute to the understanding of preadolescent children’s eating behavior in the context of parent-child food-related interactions. A more long-term objective is to obtain knowledge that might have the potential to inform future family-oriented nutrition interventions. This thesis consists of three empirical studies and an overview presenting the theoretical foundation, aims, major findings, and an overall discussion of the research performed. The specific aims of the studies included in the thesis are: (1) to test the validity of a not yet established parental feeding measure (the Comprehensive Feeding Practices Questionnaire; CFPQ) to see if it is suitable tool for measuring feeding behaviors with parents of preadolescent children (10-12-year-olds); (2) to explore the roles of child cognitions and parental feeding behaviors in explaining child intentions and behavior regarding fruit and vegetable consumption; and (3) to investigate the pathways of the associations between parental feeding behaviors and child vegetable consumption, addressing potential mediating effects of child cognitions. The results of the studies suggest that the CFPQ is a promising tool for measuring feeding practices with parents of preadolescent children (study 1); child-reported cognitions plays a greater role than parentreported feeding practices in explaining the variance in child intentions and behavior regarding fruit and vegetable consumption (study 2); some parent-reported feeding practices are indirectly associated with child vegetable consumption (i.e. parent-reported child control, parental encouragement of a balanced and varied diet, and parental restriction for health purposes) indicating mediation through child cognitions, while others are directly associated with child vegetable consumption vi (i.e. parent-reported home environment) (study 3). Although our analyses show statistically significant associations between some parental feeding practices and child intentions and behavior regarding fruit and vegetable consumption, these associations are weak. Possible reasons for the weak associations are thoroughly discussed, and directions for future research are suggested. This thesis extends the current literature on parent-child feeding interactions. It also makes a contribution to the more general health behavior and food consumption literature, by expanding an established cognitive model often applied within these research fields. Both the validation study (study 1) and the studies on the influence of child cognitions and parental feeding behaviors on child (healthy) eating (studies 2 and 3) address clear shortcomings within the literature. However, more research is needed to inform future family-oriented nutrition interventions in this group of the population.