Food-Tied Parenting Practices Common in Parents of Teens

(HealthDay News) – The use of controlling food-related parenting practices, including food restriction and pressure-to-eat, are common among parents of adolescents and vary according to weight status, according to a study published in online April 22 in Pediatrics.

Katie A. Loth, RD, MPH, from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues surveyed 3,431 parents of 2,231 adolescents participating in two population-based cohort studies to assess food-related parenting practices. Students were surveyed at school and parents completed questionnaires by mail or phone.

The researchers found that among parents of adolescents the use of controlling food-related parenting practices, including pressure-to-eat and restriction, was common. Among parents of overweight and obese adolescents, mean restriction levels were significantly higher than among parents of non-overweight adolescents. Among non-overweight adolescents, levels of pressure-to-eat were significantly higher. Pressure-to-eat behaviors were more likely among fathers, and boys were more likely to experience parental pressure-to-eat. Race/ethnicity or socioeconomic status had no significant impact on the correlation between restriction or pressure-to-eat and adolescent weight status.

“Unfortunately, there is accumulating evidence for the detrimental effects of controlling food-related parenting practices on children’s ability to self-regulate energy intake,” write the authors. “This information may be counterintuitive for some parents, making it necessary that physicians and other health care providers educate and empower parents through anticipatory guidance to promote healthy eating by making nutritious food items readily available within their home, modeling healthy food choices, and encouraging their adolescent’s autonomy in self-regulation of food intake.”

One of the authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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