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Expanding the understanding of how parenting influences the dietary intake and weight status of children: A cross-sectional study

MARSHALL, Sarah, GOLLEY, Rebecca, HENDRIE, Gilly
Nutrition & dietetics 2011 v.68 no.2 pp. 127-133
body mass index, child nutrition, children, cross-sectional studies, demographic statistics, fruits, linear models, lipids, nutrition knowledge, obesity, parenting, parents, regression analysis, risk, variance, vegetables
Aim: The present study explored whether existing tools measuring parenting could be combined to assess an expanded parenting definition, specifically to include co-participation in food-related activities and teaching children about nutrition. The relationships between parenting, child dietary intake and weight outcomes were explored. Methods: The sample included 93 children aged 4-13 years and their parent/caregiver. Child outcomes were dietary intake and body mass index z-score. Parent measures included demographics, nutrition knowledge and parenting practices. Exploratory factor analysis was used to identify underlying dimensions of parenting. Hierarchical linear regression was used to investigate the independent effects of parenting on child outcomes (body mass index z-score, fruit and vegetable, fibre, saturated and total fat) after adjustment for covariates. Results: Five factors were extracted, accounting for 44% of the total variance (α= 0.77-0.87). The regression model for kilojoules explained 31% of the variance (P= 0.001), with a significant independent contribution from construct ‘guide and reward' (β=−0.249, P= 0.027). For child body mass index z-score, the model explained 25% of variance, and parenting constructs ‘guide and reward' (β= 0.274, P= 0.015) and ‘concern about intake' (β=−0.273, P= 0.008) made significant contributions. Conclusions: The present study adds to our understanding of parenting influences on children's dietary intake and weight status. Results support the inclusion of parenting strategies in obesity prevention interventions. Future research should explore the range of ways parenting influences children's diet and risk of obesity, preferably longitudinally.