Food and Behaviour Research

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Mental health matters: Parent mental health and children's emotional eating

Sampige R, Kuno C, Frankel L (2023) Appetite Jan 1;180:106317 doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2022.106317 

Web URL: Read this and related articles on PubMed


Parents' symptoms of anxiety and depression are associated with their increased likelihood of using nonresponsive feeding practices and with children's elevated obesity risk. These feeding practices, particularly persuasive-controlling feeding practices, have further been linked to children's emotional eating, including both emotional overeating and undereating.

To help future research identify points of interventions to reduce children's maladaptive eating behaviors, the goal of this study was to determine whether persuasive-controlling feeding practices mediated the link between parent mental health and children's emotional eating.

Feeding practices were measured by the FPSQ. Anxiety was measured by the GAD-7. Depression was measured by the CESD-R. Emotional eating was measured by the CEBQ. Survey data were collected from 259 U.S. parents of preschool children as a part of a larger study.

Results from structural equation modeling showed that nonresponsive feeding behaviors mediated the relationship between parent mental health and children's emotional eating.

Future longitudinal studies and clinical trials should examine whether and how persuasive-controlling feeding practices explain the link between parents' mental health and children's maladaptive eating behaviors, including emotional eating.


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