A qualitative exploration into momentary impacts on food parenting practices among parents of pre-school aged children

Katie A. Loth, Marc Uy, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Jennifer Orlet Fisher, Jerica M. Berge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Food parenting practices have been identified as a potentially significant correlate of weight status and weight-related behaviors in children. The extent to which food parenting practices fluctuate across time and context is not well known. In particular, situational factors are thought to shape the types of food parenting practices used in the moment, but the nature of those factors remain unclear. In this paper data from interviews with parents (n = 40) of preschoolers was used to: 1) describe parents’ day-to-day lived experiences of food parenting within the broad theoretical domains of coercive control, structure and autonomy support; 2) identify salient momentary factors that influence use of these food parenting practices; and 3) understand how these momentary factors impact the use of different types of food parenting practices. The feeding practices described by parents align well with the three overarching themes described within the literature: coercive control, autonomy support, and structure. Parents described using a combination of practices from within each of these domains; they also indicated that their feeding practices were easily influenced by momentary factors that impacted their food parenting within and across eating occasions. For the most part, parents described momentary factors (e.g. schedule changes, parental stress, child behavior) that shifted them away from structure and autonomy support feeding practices, towards indulgent and coercive feeding practices. Researchers should be aware of the likely interplay between different types of feeding practices as well as the potential that momentary factors may shift parents from one type of practice towards another. The use of novel data collection methods, such as ecological momentary assessment, that allow for exploration of food parenting practices as dynamic, rather than static, behaviors should be explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-44
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018


  • Child feeding
  • Dietary intake
  • Food parenting practices
  • Momentary
  • Qualitative
  • Weight status


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