ESR7 Impact of caregivers’ feeding practices on children’s eating behaviours and intake regulation (preschoolers)

Photo CC: Joe Urrutia/Nofima

Project within WP6

General objectives:

  • To assess the impact of parental feeding practices on children’s eating behaviour in terms of food repertoire (qualitative dimension; e.g., food rejection) and intake regulation (quantitative dimension; e.g., eating in the absence of hunger)
  • To better understand parental feeding practices, their effects and drivers, and to identify promising feeding strategies to improve children’s eating behaviours by combining different methods (questionnaires with closed and open-ended questions, interviews).

Specific objectives:

  • To study and compare maternal and paternal feeding practices in France and Denmark
  • To study parental portioning practices in France and influencing factors
  • To evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown in France on families eating and feeding behaviours

Summary of results:

Mothers and fathers:

Two comprehensive questionnaire studies, one in France and one in Denmark, revealed that fathers of pre-schoolers use higher levels of coercive control practices than mothers and lower levels of structure practices and autonomy support practices. In both countries, fathers reported to be involved in feeding their child, but in France to a lesser extent than in Denmark.

In addition, the results of the study in France showed that mothers and fathers have similar perceptions of their child’s eating behaviours and that both mothers’ and fathers’ feeding practices and styles were significantly related to children’s eating behaviours.

The study in Denmark also identified predictors of mothers’ and fathers’ feeding practices – e.g., their cooking and feeding self-efficacy, their motivations when buying food for the child, social norms.

 

Parental portioning practices:

Using interviews, parental food portioning practices for pre-schoolers in France and their determinants were studied. The results indicated that parents are mostly in control. They grant little autonomy to their child for serving food and determining food portions. This could be due to the fact that parents are little aware of children’s capacities to self-regulate their food intake. However, parents are responsive to their child’s appetite, food preferences and demands. Different child-related factors (e.g., appetite and food preferences), parent-related factors (e.g., preoccupations about food waste), and external-related factors (e.g., French (food) culture) were found to influence parental portioning practices. Parents also explained that their practices are very intuitive, based on habits and “knowing” their child. They feel confident about their portioning practices and that they do not look for or know of recommendations or advices for this matter.

 

Impact COVID-19:

A questionnaire study with 498 families was conducted to investigate the possible impact of the first lockdown in France on families’ eating and feeding habits. The results indicated that many – but not all – parents reported changes in their child’s (aged 3-12 years) eating behaviours, in their feeding and cooking practices, and their food shopping motivations, compared to the period before the lockdown. Children showed more food-approach behaviours, especially when they were more bored at home, and parental feeding practices became more permissive. Parents described to buy more pleasurable and local, seasonal foods than before the lockdown. They also reported to prepare more home-cooked meals with the child. Moreover, parental stress and socio-demographic characteristics (especially level of education) played a significant role in these changes. In open questions, parents shared a variety of positive and negative food-related experiences during the lockdown and which food-related changes they would like to maintain after the lockdown. Differences in mothers’ and fathers’ experiences were also revealed; e.g., mothers struggled more with the family’s temptation to eat constantly or unhealthy during the lockdown and experienced the additional cooking more often as a burden than fathers.

Secondments:

  • Academic secondment at the Institut Paul Bocuse Research Center (2 months) to collaborate on a study of Abigail Pickard (ESR10) investigating thematic food categorization in pre-schoolers and links with food rejection tendencies.
  • Academic secondment at the MAPP centre – Aarhus University BSS (6 months) to study maternal and paternal feeding practices in Denmark and predictors.

Publications by ESR7:

  • Philippe, K., Chabanet, C., Issanchou, S., & Monnery-Patris, S. (2021). Child eating behaviors, parental feeding practices and food shopping motivations during the COVID-19 lockdown in France: (How) did they change? Appetite, 161, 105132. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2021.105132
  • Philippe, K., Chabanet, C., Issanchou, S., & Monnery-Patris, S. (2021). Are food parenting practices gendered? Impact of mothers’ and fathers’ practices on their child’s eating behaviors. Appetite, 166, 105433. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2021.105433
  • Philippe, K., Issanchou, S., Roger, A., Feyen, V., & Monnery-Patris, S. (2021). How do French parents determine portion sizes for their pre-schooler? A qualitative exploration of the parent-child division of responsibility and influencing factors. Nutrients, 13(8), 2769. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13082769
  • Philippe, K., Issanchou, S., Monnery-Patris, S. (2022). Contrasts and ambivalences in French parents’ experiences regarding changes in eating and cooking behaviours during the COVID-19 lockdown. Food Quality and Preference, 96, 104386 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2021.104386
  • Philippe, K., Chabanet, C., Issanchou, S., & Monnery-Patris, S. (2021). Young children’s eating in the absence of hunger: links with child inhibitory control, child BMI, and maternal controlling feeding practices. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 653408. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.653408
  • Philippe, K., Chabanet, C., Issanchou, S., Grønhøj, A., Aschemann-Witzel, J., & Monnery-Patris, S. (2022). Parental feeding practices and parental involvement in child feeding in Denmark: gender differences and predictors. Appetite, 170, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2021.105876

Papers and popular summaries:

New paper: Are food parenting practices gendered? Impact of mothers’ and fathers’ practices on their child’s eating behaviors.

New paper: How do French parents determine portion sizes for their pre-schooler? A qualitative exploration of the parent-child division of responsibility and influencing factors

New paper: Child eating behaviors, parental feeding practices and food shopping motivations during the COVID-19 lockdown in France: (How) did they change?

New paper: Contrasts and ambivalences in French parents’ experiences regarding changes in eating and cooking behaviours during the COVID-19 lockdown.

New paper: Young children’s eating in the absence of hunger: links with children’s control abilities, their weight status, and maternal controlling feeding practices.

Blogposts by ESR7:

Role models in children’s eating behavior  

Experiences ESR7 Kaat Philippe – Secondment Institut Paul Bocuse, Ecully, France

Secondment at the MAPP centre, Aarhus University, Denmark – Kaat Philippe (ESR7)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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