A Cross-Cultural Examination of Parenting Style and Feeding Practices




Hinton, Leilani Kaulana

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Childhood obesity is an issue of great concern to health professionals in the United States. Past research has emphasized the role parenting styles (e.g., the global parenting environment) and parents? practices (e.g., specific parent behaviors) play in shaping childhood weight status. This study is the first to examine the associations of parenting style, feeding practices and children?s self-regulation of food intake in a South Asian population. Self-report data was collected from a community sample of South Asian parents with children between the ages of 3 to 9 years old (N = 54). Participants were 75% mothers and 25% fathers. Feeding practices were compared between South Asian mothers and data from a control group that was collected from an ongoing study. Survey items measured parenting style dimensions of warmth, psychological control, and behavioral control. Parents? controlling feeding practices of pressure, restriction for health and restriction for weight were also assessed. Self-regulation was measured by parent?s report of child?s external eating and food responsiveness, as well as satiety responsiveness. Results of this study revealed South Asian mothers used more pressure in feeding than Caucasian mothers, but did not use more restriction. Acculturation was not associated with parenting style dimensions or feeding practices, but was associated with external eating. The parenting style dimension of psychological control was positively correlated with restriction for health and pressure. Psychological control and restriction for health were associated with external eating, while these variables and restriction for weight were associated with food responsiveness. Regression analyses suggest that restriction for health was the best predictor for both of these variables. Restriction for weight was related to satiety responsiveness, but this variable was not significant after controlling for child weight status. The results of this study are consistent with previous research on feeding practices and self-regulation. Parenting interventions targeting child obesity should consider teaching parents to employ less controlling feeding practices, as these methods were associated with lower self-regulation ability in children.

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