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Prospective associations between early childhood parental feeding practices and eating disorder symptoms and disordered eating behaviors in adolescence

Harris, Holly A; Kininmonth, Alice R; Nas, Zeynep; Derks, Ivonne PM; Quigley, Fiona; Jansen, Pauline W; Llewellyn, Clare; (2024) Prospective associations between early childhood parental feeding practices and eating disorder symptoms and disordered eating behaviors in adolescence. International Journal of Eating Disorders 10.1002/eat.24159. Green open access

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Nonresponsive parental feeding practices are associated with poorer appetite self-regulation in children. It is unknown whether this relationship extends beyond childhood to be prospectively associated with the onset of eating disorder (ED) symptoms in adolescence. This exploratory study therefore investigated prospective associations between early childhood parental feeding practices and adolescent ED symptoms and disordered eating behaviors. METHODS: Data were from two population-based cohorts with harmonized measures: Generation R (Netherlands; n = 4900) and Gemini (UK; n = 2094). Parents self-reported their pressure to eat, restriction and instrumental feeding (i.e., using food as a reward) at child age 4-5 years. Adolescents self-reported their compensatory behaviors (e.g., fasting, purging), binge-eating symptoms, restrained eating, uncontrolled eating, and emotional eating at 12-14 years. Associations between feeding practices and ED symptoms were examined separately in each cohort using generalized linear models. RESULTS: In Gemini, pressure to eat in early childhood was associated with adolescents engaging in compensatory behaviors. In Generation R, parental restriction was associated with adolescents engaging in compensatory behaviors, restrained eating, uncontrolled eating, and emotional eating. Instrumental feeding was associated with uncontrolled eating and emotional eating in Generation R. DISCUSSION: Nonresponsive parental feeding practices were associated with a greater frequency of specific ED symptoms and disordered eating in adolescence, although effect sizes were small and findings were inconsistent between cohorts. Potentially, the cultural and developmental context in which child-parent feeding interactions occur is important for ED symptoms. Further replication studies are required to better understand parents' role in the development and maintenance of ED-related symptoms. PUBLIC SIGNIFICANCE: Prospective research examining how early childhood parental feeding practices might contribute to adolescent ED symptoms is limited. In two population-based cohorts, nonresponsive feeding practices (restriction, instrumental feeding, pressure to eat) predicted increased frequency of some ED symptoms and disordered eating behaviors in adolescence, although associations were small and further replication is required. Findings support the promotion of responsive feeding practices, which may benefit young children's developing relationship with food.

Type: Article
Title: Prospective associations between early childhood parental feeding practices and eating disorder symptoms and disordered eating behaviors in adolescence
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/eat.24159
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.24159
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. © 2024 The Authors. International Journal of Eating Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.
Keywords: adolescent, binge eating, child, cohort, compensatory behaviors, emotional eating, feeding practices, parents, restricted eating, uncontrolled eating
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10188018
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