Food Parenting Practices and Children’s Weight Outcome: A Systematic Review of Prospective Studies

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Background: Food parenting practices may importantly influence children’s weight development. Previous reviews were primarily based on cross-sectional research. Therefore, this systematic review aimed to provide an overview of the prospective link between food parenting practices and children’s weight outcome. Methods: Three databases were searched. All titles, abstracts and full-texts were double screened by two independent reviewers. Peer-reviewed journal articles published after 1990 assessing the prospective association of food parenting practices with weight outcome of children aged 2-18 years were eligible. Reference list of eligible articles were hand-searched to identify additional articles. Results: In total, 40 studies were found eligible, focusing on 12 different food parenting practices. Restriction, pressure to eat and monitoring were not associated with children’s weight over time. Also most studies on food availability and accessibility found null-findings, although studies often only assessed small aspects of these practices. Instrumental—but not emotional—feeding was associated with higher weight over time. Results regarding the link between frequency of mealtime results were mixed. Other structure-related (e.g., rules and limits, modeling of healthy eating) and autonomy supporting (e.g., encouragement) food parenting practices were understudied. Conclusion: Food parenting practices that received most attention within prospective studies (i.e., restriction, pressure to eat, monitoring) were not associated with children’s weight outcome over time. Further, results indicate that associations of instrumental and emotional feeding with weight outcome should be examined separately. Future research should focus more on structure-related and autonomy supporting food parenting practices, and develop and validate questionnaires measuring these food parenting practices.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen