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Moderation of associations between maternal parenting styles and Australian pre-school children’s dietary intake by family structure and mother’s employment status

  • Alissa J Burnett (a1), Anthony Worsley (a1), Kathleen E Lacy (a1) and Karen E Lamb (a1)

Abstract

Objective

To examine associations between maternal parenting style and pre-school children’s dietary intake and to test whether perceived maternal time pressures, parenting arrangements and employment status influence these relationships.

Design

This cross-sectional study examined mothers’ reports of their child’s frequency of consumption of eight food and drink groups, including sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), unhealthy snacks, takeaway foods, fruit and vegetables. Parenting styles were classified as authoritative, authoritarian, permissive or disengaged using two parenting dimensions (warmth and control). The moderating roles of parenting arrangements, indexed by number of parents in the home and maternal employment status, were assessed. Associations were examined using multinomial regression.

Setting

Data were from the infant and child cohorts in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.

Participants

Children aged 4–5 years from both cohorts (infant: n 3607; child: n 4661) were included.

Results

Compared with children of disengaged mothers, children of authoritative mothers consumed most unhealthy foods less frequently, and fruit and vegetables more frequently. Results suggested parenting arrangements and mothers’ working status may moderate associations between parenting styles and SSB, takeaway foods, takeaway snacks and fruit consumption.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that authoritative parenting style is associated with a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables and a lower consumption of unhealthy foods among children. However, parenting arrangements and the mothers’ working status may influence these relationships. Further research is required to examine the influence of other potential moderators of parenting style/food consumption relationships such as household time and resource limitations.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email ajburnet@deakin.edu.au

References

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