Predictors of maternal child-feeding style: Maternal and child characteristics

Lori A. Francis, Scott M. Hofer, Leann L. Birch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

287 Scopus citations


We investigated relationships among maternal and child characteristics, and two aspects of maternal child-feeding styles that may place daughters at risk for developing problems with energy balance. Participants included 104 overweight (BMI ≥ 25) and 92 non-overweight (BMI <25) mothers and their 5-year-old, non-Hispanic, White daughters. Child-feeding styles included (a) restriction of daughters' intake of energy-dense snack food, and (b) pressure to eat more food. Predictors of child-feeding styles included measures of (1) maternal investment in weight and eating issues, including dietary restraint and weight concern, (2) child adiposity, (3) maternal perceptions of the child as underweight or overweight, and (4) maternal concern for child weight. Mothers reported using more restrictive feeding practices when they were invested in weight and eating issues, when they perceived daughters as overweight, when they were concerned about daughters' weight, and when daughters were heavier. Mothers reported using more pressure in child feeding when daughters were thinner, and when mothers perceived daughters as underweight. Further analyses examined whether relationships among child-feeding styles were different for overweight and non-overweight mothers. Overweight mothers' child-feeding styles appeared to be influenced by observable child weight characteristics, concerns for the child's weight status, and mothers' own history of overweight. Non-overweight mothers' child-feeding styles appeared to be influenced by distorted perceptions of and concerns for children, as well as distorted self-perceptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-243
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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