Purpose: Depression and other stressors have been associated with general parenting and child outcomes in low-income families. Given that parents shape child eating behaviors through their feeding interactions with their child, it is important to investigate factors that may influence parental feeding of young children. The aim of this study was to examine how depressive symptoms and parenting stress might influence the nature of parent feeding styles in low-income families.
Methods: Questionnaires were completed by 290 African-American and Hispanic parents residing in a large urban city in the southwestern United States. Twenty-six percent of the parents reported depressive symptoms above the clinical cutoff. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine how depressive symptoms and parenting stress might influence the nature of parent feeding styles.
Results: After adjusting for potential confounding variables (e.g., ethnicity, education, age), parents with an uninvolved feeding style reported less positive affect and more parenting stress than parents showing the other three feeding styles - authoritative, authoritarian, and indulgent.
Conclusions: Because feeding styles tend to be associated with child obesity in low income samples, the results of this study provide important information regarding the parent-child eating dynamic that may promote less optimal child eating behaviors and the development of childhood obesity. This information could be useful for prevention studies aimed at changing parent behaviors that negatively impact the socialization of child eating behaviors.