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Parenting and child body mass index: Longitudinal investigation of maternal and paternal influence

Authors

  • Amanda Taylor,

    Corresponding author
    1. Food and Nutritional Sciences, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Adelaide, South Australia,
    2. School of Psychology, the University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia,
      Amanda Taylor, BPsych(Hons), CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, Gate 13, Kintore Ave, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia. Email: Amanda.Taylor@csiro.au
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  • Carlene Wilson,

    1. Food and Nutritional Sciences, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Adelaide, South Australia,
    2. School of Psychology, the University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia,
    3. Cancer Council of South Australia, Eastwood, South Australia,
    4. School of Medicine, Flinders University of South Australia, Bedford Park, South Australia
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  • Amy Slater,

    1. School of Psychology, Flinders University of South Australia, Bedford Park, South Australia and
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  • Philip Mohr

    1. Food and Nutritional Sciences, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Adelaide, South Australia,
    2. School of Psychology, the University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia,
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  • Disclaimer: This paper uses unit record data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) Survey. The LSAC Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), and is managed by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the authors and should not be attributed to either FaHCSIA or AIFS.

Amanda Taylor, BPsych(Hons), CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, Gate 13, Kintore Ave, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia. Email: Amanda.Taylor@csiro.au

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate the cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between general parenting and body mass index (BMI) status of children between the ages of 4 and 7 in Australia. A nationally representative sample of 4,423 children (49% female) and their parents was used for the present study. Measures of parental demandingness and responsiveness were completed by parents at child age 4–5 years. Height and weight measurements of children were taken at child age 4–5, and again at 6–7, from which BMI status was calculated. No influence of mothers' parenting on child BMI status was shown, and fathers' responsiveness was found to be predictive of increased risk for overweight/obesity at 6–7 years. While the present study is complicated by measurement issues, findings suggest that increased risk for overweight in young children may be associated with responsiveness in fathers. Obesity prevention programs involving parents should take into account the influence of fathers' parenting on child BMI status.

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