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An examination of food parenting practices: structure, control and autonomy promotion

  • Dara R Musher-Eizenman (a1), Lynnel Goodman (a1), Lindsey Roberts (a1), Jenna Marx (a1), Maija Taylor (a1) and Debra Hoffmann (a1)...



In recent years, researchers have been working towards creating a standard conceptual framework of food parenting. To understand how parents’ reports correspond with the proposed model, the current study examined parents’ reports of their feeding behaviours in the context of a newly established framework of food parenting.


Cross-sectional, with a two-week follow-up for a subset of the sample. Participants completed a quantitative and qualitative survey to assess food parenting. The survey included items from common food parenting instruments to measure the constructs posited in the framework. Exploratory factor analyses were conducted to ascertain which items related most closely to one another and factors were mapped on to existing constructs.




Parents of children aged 2·5–7 years (n 496). Of these, 122 completed a two-week follow-up.


Analyses revealed eleven aspects of Structure (monitoring; distraction; family presence; meal/snack schedule; unstructured practices; healthy/unhealthy food availability; food preparation; healthy/unhealthy modelling; rules), ten aspects of Coercive Control (pressure to eat; using food to control emotions; food incentives to eat; food incentives to behave; non-food incentives to eat; restriction for health/weight; covert restriction; clean plate; harsh coercion) and seven aspects of Autonomy Promotion (praise; encouragement; nutrition education; child involvement; negotiation; responsive feeding; repeated offering). Content validity, assessed via parents’ open-ended explanations of their responses, was high, and test–retest reliability was moderate to high. Structure and Autonomy Promoting food parenting were highly positively correlated.


In general, parents’ responses provided support for the model, but suggested some amendments and refinements.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email


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