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To examine the associations between parental feeding styles and children’s dietary intakes and the modifying effect of maternal education and children’s ethnicity on these associations.
Cross-sectional study of parental feeding styles, assessed by the Parental Feeding Style Questionnaire, and children’s dietary intakes. Multiple regression analyses were carried out to assess the associations between the parental feeding styles studied (‘control’, ‘emotional feeding’, ‘encouragement to eat’ and ‘instrumental feeding’) and children’s dietary intakes (consumption of fruit, vegetables, water and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB)). The modifying effect of maternal education and children’s ethnicity on these associations was explored.
North-western part of the Netherlands.
Children aged 3–7 years (n 5926).
Both ‘encouragement’ and ‘control’ were associated with higher consumption of vegetables and lower consumption of SSB, but only ‘encouragement’ was positively associated with fruit and water intakes. ‘Instrumental feeding’ showed a positive association with SSB and negative associations with fruit, vegetable and water consumption. No significant associations were found for ‘emotional feeding’. Maternal educational level and children’s ethnicity moderated some associations; for example, ‘control’ was beneficial for vegetable intake in all subgroups, whereas the association with SSB was beneficial only in highly educated mothers.
The study shows that both encouraging and controlling feeding styles may improve children’s dietary behaviour, while ‘instrumental feeding’ may have a detrimental effect. Furthermore, maternal educational level and children’s ethnicity influence these associations. The study’s findings could provide a basis for development of interventions to improve parental feeding styles.
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