The relationship between controlling feeding practices and boys' and girls' eating in the absence of hunger

Holly Harris, Kimberley M. Mallan*, Smita Nambiar, Lynne A. Daniels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Parental controlling feeding practices have been directly associated with maladaptive child eating behaviors, such as eating in the absence of hunger (EAH). The aims of this study were to examine EAH in very young children (3-4. years old) and to investigate the association between maternal controlling feeding practices and energy intake from a standardized selection of snacks consumed 'in the absence of hunger'. Thirty-seven mother-child dyads enrolled in the NOURISH RCT participated in a modified EAH protocol conducted in the child's home. All children displayed EAH, despite 80% reporting to be full or very full following completion of lunch 15. min earlier. The relationships between maternal and child covariates and controlling feeding practices and EAH were examined using non-parametric tests, and were stratified by child gender. For boys only, pressure to eat was positively associated with EAH. Neither restriction nor monitoring practices were associated with EAH in either boys or girls. Overall, the present findings suggest that gender differences in the relationship between maternal feeding practices and children's eating behaviors emerge early and should be considered in future research and intervention design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-522
Number of pages4
JournalEating Behaviors
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge funding sources. The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council has provided funding for NOURISH 2008–2010 and 2012–2014. Additional funding was provided by H. J. Heinz (post-doctoral fellowship to Dr. Kimberley Mallan), Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) , the Department of Health South Australia , Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) , and the Queensland University of Technology . These funding sources had no involvement in the present study.


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