Objective: This pilot study tested whether maternal feeding attitudes and styles towards children are part of the 'shared' or 'non-shared' home environment. A secondary aim was to test whether within-family differences in maternal feeding attitudes and styles relate to within-family differences in child weight status. Methods: Mothers of 3- to 7-year-old sibling pairs (N=15 pairs) completed the Child Feeding Questionnaire (CFQ), which assessed feeding attitudes (perceived responsibility, perceived child overweight and child weight concern) and feeding styles (monitoring, restriction and pressure to eat) towards children. Mothers rated each sibling separately. Child weight and height were measured and converted to body mass index (BMI) z-scores. Intraclass correlations tested the familial associations for each CFQ subscale. Pearson's correlations tested whether within-family differences in CFQ subscales were related to within-family differences in child BMI z-scores. Results: Perceived responsibility (ρ=0.77, P=0.0004), perceived child overweight (ρ=0.99, P<0.0001) and monitoring (ρ=0.57, P=0.01) showed significant familial correlations. Mothers reported significantly greater weight concern (r=0.85, P=0.02) and reduced pressure to eat (r=-0.80, P=0.03) towards heavier than thinner children within families. Conclusion: Whether or not maternal feeding practices are shared or non-shared components of the home environment depends on the specific feeding domain being measured. Restrictive feeding practices and encouragements to eat by mothers might be tested as non-shared environmental variables in genetics studies of childhood obesity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Nutrition and Dietetics