Associations between Parental Feeding Styles and Childhood Eating Habits: A Survey of Hong Kong Pre-School Children.PLoS One. 2015; 10(4):e0124753.Plos
Childhood obesity is a global public health issue, including in the Chinese setting, and its prevalence has increased dramatically throughout the last decade. Since the origins of childhood obesity may lie in the pre-school period, factors relating to very young children's food consumption should be investigated. Parental influence, including feeding style, is the major determinant of childhood dietary behaviour through altering food provision and social environment. However, the applicability of previous research on parental feeding styles was limited by small sample size. To evaluate the influence of parental feeding styles on children's dietary patterns, a cross-sectional study was conducted among 4553 pre-schoolers in Hong Kong. Information was obtained about dietary intake and how regularly they had breakfast, using previous health surveillance surveys taken among primary school students. Parental feeding styles were assessed by a validated Parental Feeding Style Questionnaire and categorized into 'instrumental feeding', 'emotional feeding', 'prompting and encouragement to eat' and 'control over eating'. Multivariable analysis was performed, adjusted for demographic information. Instrumental and/or emotional feeding was found to relate to inadequate consumption of fruit, vegetables and breakfast, and positively correlated with intake of high-energy-density food. Encouragement on eating was associated with more frequent consumption of fruits, vegetables, dairy products and breakfast. Control over eating correlated with more frequent consumption of fruits, vegetables and breakfast, and less consumption of dairy products and high-energy-density food. The present study has provided evidence on the associations between parental feeding styles and dietary patterns of Hong Kong pre-school children from a reasonably large population. Parents should avoid instrumental and emotional feeding, and implement control and encouragement to promote healthy food intake. Longitudinal studies and interventions on parental feeding style are required to confirm the research findings.