Associations between Multiple Measures of Parental Feeding and Children's Adiposity in United Kingdom Preschoolers


Cancer Research UK Health Behavior Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom. E-mail:


Objective: Research into the association between parental control over feeding and children's adiposity has produced inconclusive results. Some studies have found parental control to be associated with unhealthy food choices and disordered intake regulation, whereas others have found favorable or null associations between control and adiposity. This study hypothesized that variability in measures of parental feeding could contribute to these discrepancies. Scales from a range of existing parental feeding questionnaires were used together, in the same large sample of children, to examine associations with adiposity.

Research Methods and Procedures: Associations between scores on scales from three published parental feeding questionnaires [Child Feeding Questionnaire (CFQ); Preschooler Feeding Questionnaire (PFQ); and Parental Feeding Style Questionnaire (PFSQ)] and children's BMI z-scores, calculated from measured heights and weights, were examined in a socioeconomically diverse sample of 439 parents and their 3- to 5-year-old children.

Results: Higher scores on CFQ Pressure to Eat and PFQ Pushing the Child to Eat More were significantly associated with lower BMI z-score, while PFSQ Prompting to Eat, CFQ Restriction, PFSQ Instrumental Feeding, and PFSQ Emotional Feeding were unassociated with BMI z-score.

Discussion: These results suggest that parents of leaner children are more likely to encourage their children to eat. Other feeding strategies seemed to have negligible relationships with children's BMI z-scores at this stage. Longitudinal and genetically informed designs are needed to clarify the causal pathways between parental feeding and children's adiposity.