The role of parenting in the relationship between childhood eating problems and broader behaviour problems

Objective Previous research has established that childhood feeding and eating problems are often related to other behavioural difficulties. Parenting practices have been implicated in both eating behaviour and broader behaviour problems. The aim of this study was to examine whether the relationship between eating and behaviour problems could be explained in part by parenting style and practices. Methods Seventy-seven mothers of 3- to 8-year-old children completed measures of children’s eating behaviours, behaviour problems, parenting style and feeding practices. Results Eating behaviours (food responsiveness, emotional under-eating, fussiness) and behaviour problems (conduct problems, hyperactivity, total difficulties) were significantly correlated, but when parenting style and feeding practices were controlled for, significant associations disappeared. Conclusions Although the findings are limited because of a relatively low response rate, in non-clinical groups, the perceived commonality between eating and behaviour problems may be explained by parenting.