Parental feeding and child eating: An investigation of reciprocal effects.


Parental feeding practices and children’s eating behavior are consistently related to childhood obesity. However, it is not known whether parents’ feeding practices predict obesogenic eating behavior or vice versa. In a Norwegian cohort (n = 797), it was found that greater parental use of food as a reward (instrumental feeding) when children were 6 predicted increased emotional overeating and food responsiveness, whereas greater parental encouragement to eat forecasted increased enjoyment of food 2 years later. No evidence of child effects emerged. Although children’s eating behavior is relatively stable and established at an early age, findings suggest that parental feeding practices can serve as targets of intervention to prevent the development of obesogenic eating behavior.