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Objective

To investigate the relationship between maternal child-feeding practices and child adiposity in an ethnically diverse sample by examining three categories of relationships: 1) mothers' weight status; 2) mothers' investment in eating-related issues; and 3) mothers' concerns about child's weight. It was predicted that these variables would be related to mothers' use of restriction, monitoring, and pressure in child feeding, influencing child adiposity.

Design and Methods

A total of 563 mothers (306 Hispanic, 76 Asian, 36 Black, and 145 White) with children aged 2-11 years completed the Child Feeding Questionnaire and Eating Attitudes Test. Analyses used structural equation modeling.

Results

Ethnic differences in the resulting models emerged. Mothers' weight status negatively predicted maternal control over child's eating; heavier mothers reported less control over child's eating. Greater concern about child's weight was associated with more maternal control of child's eating for all groups. Maternal control over child's eating was predictive of child's body mass index only in the White group.

Conclusions

Although maternal investment in eating-related issues did predict maternal control over child's eating for White mothers, this relationship did not exist for Hispanics. Different maternal factors influence mothers' control over their child's eating in Hispanic and White groups. In ethnic minorities, maternal control over child's eating may not influence child adiposity.