The use of real life scenarios as a means of assessing maternal feeding behaviours (#66)
Background: The prevalence of overweight and obesity in children is a major public health concern. Parental (particularly maternal) feeding practices can impact on children’s eating and weight status. Current measures of feeding practices largely measure attitudes rather than specific feeding behaviours. As yet it is not known whether these measures are associated with real-life responses to feeding situations. The aim of the present study was to use scenarios to investigate how parent-feeding attitudes translate into actual behaviours.
Methods: 610 mothers (mean age = 35.7 years ±.46) of children aged 2-7 (mean age 3.9 years ±.46) completed an online questionnaire assessing parent feeding attitudes using scales from four published feeding questionnaires: Child Feeding Questionnaire (CFQ); Comprehensive Feeding Practices Questionnaire (CFPQ); Parent Mealtime Action Scale (PMAS); and Covert Control. These were compared with responses to a set of scenarios, developed through intensive pilot testing with 22 mothers. Each scenario depicted a common but challenging situation where parents needed to make a decision about snack food requests (e.g., at a supermarket or party), and offered several different possible behavioural responses.
Results: Exploratory factor analysis indicated that the scales from the published feeding questionnaires could be reduced to three main factors: modeling and education (13% variance), explicit control (11.22% variance) and environment control (6.7% variance). The scenarios were successful in eliciting a wide range of responses and were associated with significant differences on the measures of explicit control and environment control,but not with modeling and education. Responses to the scenarios were also associated with significant differences in unhealthy snack intake.
Conclusions: Parent behaviours in specific situations are a reflection of the feeding attitudes associated with explicit control and environment control. The scenarios could potentially be used to provide parents with advice about the ‘best’ strategies for dealing with everyday snack food requests.