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Maternal–Child Feeding Practices and Associations With Maternal and Child Characteristics

Gonçalves, Sónia PhD; Lima, Virgínia MPsy; Machado, Bárbara C. PhD; Machado, Paulo PhD

doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000233
Maternal and Child Nutrition

We evaluated associations between maternal child-feeding practices and maternal (age, body mass index [BMI], education, disordered eating) and child (age, BMI, emotional and behavioral) characteristics in 412 mothers and their children using the Parental Feeding Practices, the Child Behavior Checklist, and the Eating Disorders Examination Questionnaires. Maternal BMI was positively correlated with covert control feeding practices. Younger maternal age and lower maternal educational level were associated with increased maternal pressure to eat and overt control in their child-feeding practices. Maternal disordered eating behaviors were associated with increased restriction and covert control in their child-feeding practices. Maternal monitoring during child feeding was associated with lower levels of the child’s problems with internalization and externalization. Finally, maternal feeding practices that involved covert control were related to higher eating restriction by the mother on herself and more maternal concern about her child’s weight. Our findings suggest that maternal feeding practices such as overt and covert control are related to both maternal and child factors. Clinicians must become aware that these maternal feeding practices can model children’s eating behavior and disrupt children’s self-regulation of food intake; however, maternal monitoring during child feeding seems to be related to children’s well-being.

Sónia Gonçalves, PhD, is an assistant professor at the School of Psychology, University of Minho, Portugal.

Virginia Lima, MPsy, is a clinical psychologist at the National Institute of Social Security, Braga, Portugal.

Bárbara C. Machado, PhD, is an assistant professor at the Portuguese Catholic University, Porto, Portugal.

Paulo Machado, PhD, is a full professor at the School of Psychology, University of Minho, Portugal.

Permission was obtained from the appropriate human subjects, and approvals were obtained from the Portuguese Ministry of Education.

Dr P Machado is supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology and the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education through national funds and co-financed by FEDER through COMPETE2020 under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007653). He has also received funding from the European Commission in the past. All other authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Sónia Gonçalves, PhD, Campus de Gualtar, School of Psychology, University of Minho, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal (

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