Parental food preferences are associated with body weight disturbance in preschool children
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Parental factors such as stress induced by parenting and certain food preferences are suspected to promote obesity in preschool children. In this context, especially the intake of dietary fat is assumed to play a key role for the children’s risk to become obese. Here we analyzed eating behaviors in parents of 3-year-olds in order to identify parental traits that are associated with body weight in these children. We also tested for possible interactions between psychosocial factors such as stress induced by parenting and parental food cravings. Questionnaires were sent out to 1300 parents whose children’s body weight was measured during ambulatory medical care visits (parental response rate 70.4%). Using the Food Craving Inventory scale allowed examining parental preferences for the following food categories: high-fat/high-protein, sweets, carbohydrates, and fast food. Psychosocial stress caused by parenting was assessed with the Swedish Parenthood Stress Questionnaire (SPSQ). Our main finding was that the parental preference for foods rich in high-fat/high-protein nutrients displayed an inverse U-shaped function to the children’s body weight such that low preference for this category was associated with both overweight and underweight in offspring. Parental preference for sweet-foods were associated with higher odds for developing overweight in early childhood. The level of parental food preferences was significantly modulated by stress induced by parenting. In conclusion, we show that parental food preference is affected by stress and is associated with the body weight status of their children. The results suggest that parental intake of high-fat/high-protein foods protects against weight disturbances in preschool children.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-119472OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-119472DiVA: diva2:300942