Parent-child feeding practices in a developing country: Findings from the Family Diet Study.
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BACKGROUND AND AIMS
Given the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity in Malaysia, examination of family environmental factors is warranted. Reviews from developed countries report inconsistent findings on the relationship between parental-child feeding practices and child weight-related health outcomes. The current study aimed to examine parent-child feeding practices by familial-child characteristics in Malaysia.
MATERIALS AND METHOD
The Family Diet Study was conducted with urban Malay families and included a child aged 8-12 years and their main carer(s). Seven domains of parent-child feeding practices were assessed using the child feeding questionnaire and familial demographics, including socio-economic status, child anthropometry and dietary intake were collected. Inferential statistics were used to explore the relationships between variables.
Of the 315 families enrolled, 236 completed all measures, with the majority of parent-reporters being mothers (n = 182). One-third of the children were classified as overweight/obese. Three domains of parent-child feeding practices had median scores of 4.0 out of 5.0 [concern about child overweight (CCO) (Interquartile range (IQR): 3.3, 4.7); pressure-to-eat (PTE) (IQR: 3.3, 4.5) and food monitoring (IQR: 3.0, 5.0)]. The domain of 'perceived child overweight' was positively associated with child age (r = 0.45, p < 0.001). Children who were overweight (F = 37.4; p < 0.001) and under-reported energy intake (F = 13.1; p = 0.001) had higher median scores for the parental perception of risk of child being overweight. Median scores for the CCO and PTE domains were significantly higher in low-income families (F = 7.87; F = 9.75; p < 0.05, respectively).
Malay parents in this present study are concerned about their child's weight, particularly for those overweight. Family size, household income, and child weight status significantly influence parent-child feeding practices. Further research examining the cultural context of family environmental factors related to childhood obesity is warranted within Malaysia.