Maternal correlates of preschool child eating behaviours and body mass index: a cross-sectional study


Correspondence: Dr Helen Skouteris, School of Psychology, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria, Australia, 3125. Fax: 9244 6858. Email:


To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate maternal child feeding practices, maternal parenting characteristics and mother-child interactions as cross-sectional predictors of child eating and/or weight within the one sample. Maternal pressure for her child to eat was a significant positive correlate of fussiness and a negative correlate of enjoyment. Maternal parenting warmth was associated negatively with child BMIz, while mother-child dysfunctional interaction was associated positively with child BMIz. Our findings suggest that childhood obesity research may be better informed by evaluating not just what mothers do (feeding practices) but also how they parent (parenting behaviours and interactions with their child). Longitudinal studies are needed to identify causal influences of parenting on preschool child eating and weight.