The study found that child enjoyment of food was linked to lower maternal pressure to eat. For instance, parents who tell their children to clean their plate may be causing them to be fussy eaters, while parents who try to tightly control what their children eat could make them prone to overeating.
To investigate, researchers surveyed 213 mothers of 7- to 9-year-old children. Mothers were asked about how their children responded to food: whether they would typically overeat if given a chance, along with whether they'd eat slowly or routinely fail to finish meals.
Mothers also reported on their own mealtime strategies, including whether they tried to get their children to eat when they weren't hungry or whether they believed their children would overindulge without eating restrictions.
Overall, researchers found a link between the mothers' pressure to eat healthy food and children's degree of fussiness over food. In addition, the more mothers restricted their children's food, the more likely mothers were to say their children would overindulge if allowed.
The links were seen regardless of the children's weight.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
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