Authoritative parent feeding style is associated with better child dietary quality at dinner among low-income minority families

Katherine R. Arlinghaus, Kirstin Vollrath, Daphne C. Hernandez, Shabnam R. Momin, Teresia M. O'Connor, Thomas G. Power, Sheryl O. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background Parent feeding styles have been linked to child weight status across multiple studies. However, to our knowledge, the link between feeding styles and children's dietary quality, a more proximal outcome, has not been investigated. Objective The purpose of this study was to examine the relation between parent feeding styles and dietary quality of Head Start preschoolers' dinner meals. Design The amount of food served and consumed by children was measured by using a standardized digital photography method during 3 in-home dinner observations of low-income minority families in Houston, Texas. Trained dietitians entered food served and consumed into the Nutrient Data System for Research 2009 for nutrient analysis. Overall dietary quality of the food served and consumed at dinner was evaluated by using the Healthy Eating Index 2010 (HEI-2010). Parent feeding style was assessed with the use of the Caregiver's Feeding Style Questionnaire (CFSQ). On the basis of a parent's level of demandingness and responsiveness to his or her child during feeding, the CFSQ categorizes parent feeding into 4 styles: authoritative (high demandingness and high responsiveness), authoritarian (high demandingness and low responsiveness), indulgent (low demandingness and high responsiveness), or uninvolved (low demandingness and low responsiveness). Results For the overall sample, the mean ± SD HEI score for dinner served was 44.2 ± 8.4, and the mean ± SD HEI score for dinner consumed was 43.4 ± 7.0. In the fully adjusted model, ANCOVA indicated that the authoritative parent feeding style was associated with significantly higher child dietary quality compared with the authoritarian feeding style (mean ± SEE HEI consumed - authoritative 45.5 ± 0.9; authoritarian: 41.9 ± 0.7; P = 0.001). Conclusions Parent feeding style contributes to the overall dietary quality of children, and among low-income minority preschoolers an authoritative feeding style was associated with the highest dietary quality of the 4 feeding styles. Interventions to promote feeding practices that contribute to authoritative feeding are needed to improve the dietary quality of preschool children at dinner. This trial was registered at as NCT02696278.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-736
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by funds from the USDA, grant 2006-55215-16695. This work is a publication of the United States Department of Agriculture [USDA– Agricultural Research Service (-ARS)] Children’s Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, and has been funded in part with federal funds from the USDA-ARS under cooperative agreement 58-6250-0-008, and in part by Kraft Foods, Inc.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Society for Nutrition.


  • Healthy Eating Index
  • child dietary quality
  • direct observation
  • parent feeding styles
  • preschoolers


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