Background: Child emotional overeating is a risk factor for obesity that is learned in the home environment. Parents' use of food to soothe child distress may contribute to the development of children's emotional overeating. Objectives: To examine the effect of a responsive parenting (RP) intervention on mother-reported child emotional overeating, and explore whether effects are mediated by mother-reported use of food to soothe child distress. Methods: The sample included primiparous mother-infant dyads randomized to a RP intervention (n = 105) or home safety control group (n = 102). Nurses delivered RP guidance in four behavioral domains: sleeping, fussy, alert/calm, and drowsy. Mothers reported their use of food to soothe at age 18 months and child emotional overeating at age 30 months. Mediation was analyzed using the SAS PROCESS macro. Results: RP intervention mothers reported less frequent use of food to soothe and perceived their child's emotional overeating as lower compared to the control group. Food to soothe mediated the RP intervention effect on child emotional overeating (mediation model: R2 = 0.13, P '.0001). Conclusions: Children's emotional overeating may be modified through an early life RP intervention. Teaching parents alternative techniques to soothe child distress rather than feeding may curb emotional overeating development to reduce future obesity risk.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Health Policy
- Nutrition and Dietetics
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health