Parental feeding practices and children's weight

Jane Wardle, Susan Carnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Global increases in childhood obesity rates demand that we tackle the problem from many directions. One promising avenue is to explore the impact of parental feeding practices, particularly those related to parental control over children's intake. In this paper, we review studies of parent feeding and child adiposity covering a range of research methodologies (case-control studies, high risk studies, cross-sectional community studies and longitudinal cohort studies). We also present results from a cross-sectional community study of pre-schoolers (n = 439) and a longitudinal study of twins from ages of 4 to 7 years (n = 3175 pairs). We conclude that parents are more likely to encourage leaner than heavier children to eat, but relationships between adiposity and other parental feeding strategies are unclear. We suggest that future research should: (i) explore the impact of a comprehensive range of authoritative and authoritarian parental feeding behaviours, preferably using the same validated scales consistently across studies; (ii) test the generalisation of existing findings to diverse socio-economic and ethnic groups and (iii) utilise experimental, prospective and genetic methodologies to explore the causal relationships between parental feeding and child weight. We describe current projects in our own group that are designed to take forward these recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-11
Number of pages7
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue numberSUPPL. 454
StatePublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Family environment
  • Genetic factors
  • Parental control
  • Pediatric obesity
  • Weight gain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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