Changes in parental feeding practices and preschoolers' food habits following a randomized controlled childhood obesity trial.
Childhood obesity treatment involving parents is most effective during the preschool age. However, the mechanisms of change are not known. The present study reports on secondary outcomes (changes in parental feeding practices and child food habits) of early obesity treatment. The More and Less study is a randomized controlled trial conducted in Stockholm County, Sweden. Children with obesity (n = 174, mean BMI SDS 3.0, mean age 5 years, 56% girls) and their parents (60% with foreign background, 40% with a university degree) were randomized to: 1) standard treatment focusing on lifestyle recommendations (ST), 2) a parent support program with boosters (PGB), and 3) a parent support program without boosters (PGNB). The Child Feeding Questionnaire (CFQ) was used to measure parental feeding practices. Child food habits were assessed with a Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ). We calculated the monthly changes in CFQ practices and FFQ items based on four measurements. We did not find any significant between-group differences in parental feeding practices and child food habits over time. However, general linear models showed that changes in certain feeding practices predicted changes in child food habits. When ST was compared to the parent support groups, some associations moved in opposite directions. For example, increasing maternal restriction predicted increased consumption of cookies/buns in PGNB (b = 2.3, p < 0.05) and decreased consumption of cookies/buns in ST (b = -2.1, p < 0.05). This is the first study to examine the effect of parental feeding practices on child food habits and weight status after obesity treatment among preschoolers. We found no evidence that changes in feeding practices or changes in child food habits mediated child weight loss. Future studies should consider other intermediary processes related to general parenting practices and parent-child interactions.
Child eating, Child feeding questionnaire, Family-based treatment, Parental feeding practices, Randomized controlled trial