Appetitive Traits and Weight in Children: Evidence for Parents' Controlling Feeding Practices as Mediating Mechanisms.
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Children's food approach and food avoidance are appetitive traits with genetic or biological bases. Nonetheless, parents play a critical role in children's dietary intake through parenting and feeding practices. The present study tested parents' controlling feeding practices (i.e., restriction and pressure to eat) as mediating mechanisms between child appetitive traits and child BMI in an economically and ethnically diverse sample. Participants were 139 children aged 4 to 6years (51.8% males, M=4.77years, SD=0.84) and their parents. Results showed that restriction and pressure to eat mediated the relation between child food approach or food avoidance and child BMI. Mediation effects did not differ across poverty status or racial/ethnic groups. Also, the type of controlling feeding that parents exert related to children's weight status in diametrically different or opposite ways. Thus, food-related parenting appears to be a promising point of entry for childhood obesity prevention programs. Findings are consistent with a biopsychosocial model of the development of eating and weight in childhood which takes into account both parent and child behavior and characteristics and links child biology and behavior with psychosocial processes and environment.