Parenting styles, food-related parenting practices, and children's healthy eating: A mediation analysis to examine relationships between parenting and child diet.Appetite. 2018 09 01; 128:205-213.A
Parents exert a strong influence on their children's diet. While authoritative parenting style is linked to healthier weight and dietary outcomes in children, and authoritarian and permissive parenting styles with unhealthy eating, little is known about the mechanisms that mediate these relationships. Feeding styles are often examined in relation to child diet, but they do not consider the social and physical environmental contexts in which dietary behaviors occur. Therefore, this study examined whether parenting styles (authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive) were associated with three specific food-related parenting practices - mealtime structural practices (e.g., eating meals as a family), parent modeling of healthy food, and household food rules and whether these parenting practices mediated the association between parenting styles and children's diet. Participants were 174 mother-child dyads. Mothers (68% married, 58% college graduates, Mage = 41 years [SD = 6.2]) reported on their parenting practices using validated scales and parenting style using the Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire. Children (52% female, Mage = 10 years [SD = 0.9]) completed two telephone-based 24-hour dietary recalls. Dietary outcomes included the Healthy Eating Index (HEI)-2010 score, and fruit and vegetables and added sugar intake. Using PROCESS, multiple mediation cross-sectional analyses with parallel mediators using 10,000 bootstraps were performed. Significant indirect effects were observed with mealtime structure and the relationships between authoritative parenting and HEI-2010 score (b = 0.045, p < .05, CI = [0.006, 0.126]), authoritarian parenting and HEI-2010 score (b = -0.055, p < .05, CI = [-0.167, -0.001]), and permissive parenting and HEI-2010 score (b = -0.093, p < .05, CI = [-0.265, -0.008]). Child diet quality is affected by mealtime structural practices. Further examination of the features by which mealtime structural practices serve as a mechanism for parents to support healthy eating among their children may improve children's diet quality.