Objective This study evaluated associations between parent-child connectedness and communication, parent feeding behaviors (restriction, pressure to eat, and monitoring), and age- and sex-standardized child body mass index (zBMI) in a sample of pre-adolescent children aged 8-12 years. Methods A community sample of three hundred and eight child-parent dyads completed measures of communication and connectedness. Parents completed a feeding behavior measure and children were weighed and their height was measured. We examined whether parental feeding behaviors and parent-child communication and connectedness predicted child zBMI and whether parental feeding behaviors moderated the association between parent-child communication and connectedness and child zBMI. Results Feeding restriction was positively associated with zBMI, while both pressure to eat and food monitoring exhibited negative associations with zBMI. Child-reported communication was inversely associated with zBMI and parental pressure to eat moderated this association such that lower pressure to eat predicted a stronger association between communication and zBMI. Conclusions These findings are consistent with previous research suggesting that parent feeding strategies and parent-child communication are important contributors to child weight status. This study also provides preliminary evidence suggesting that adaptive parent-child communication is associated with lower body mass when parents avoid pressuring their child to eat. Our study provides an important extension of this body of research into middle childhood, a relatively understudied developmental stage.
- weight management
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology