Differential Maternal Feeding Practices, Eating Self-Regulation, and Adiposity in Young Twins
OBJECTIVE: Restrictive feeding is associated with childhood obesity; however, this could be due to other factors that drive children to overeat and parents to restrict (eg, child genetics). Using a twin design to better control for confounders, we tested differences in restrictive feeding within families in relation to differences in twins’ self-regulatory eating and weight status.
METHODS: Sixty-four same-gender twin pairs (4–7 years old) were studied with their mothers. Child caloric compensation ability (COMPX% index) was assessed by using a laboratory-based protocol. The Child Feeding Questionnaire assessed mothers’ self-reported feeding styles toward each twin. Child BMI (kg/m2) and BMI z score were calculated by using measured weight and height; percent body fat and waist circumference were also assessed. Partial correlations examined within-twin pair differences in Child Feeding Questionnaire subscales in relation to within-twin pair differences in anthropometry and caloric compensation (COMPX%).
RESULTS: Differences in maternal restriction were significantly associated with within-pair differences in child COMPX% and BMI z score. Mothers reported more restriction toward the heavier and more poorly compensating twin. Additionally, within-pair differences in parental pressure to eat were associated with significant differences in BMI z score, percent body fat, and waist circumference. Mothers were more pressuring toward the lighter twin.
CONCLUSIONS: Mothers vary in their feeding practices, even among same-gender twin pairs, which might influence differences in adiposity. Future research needs to elucidate cause-and-effect and intervention implications regarding parental restriction and pressure-to-eat prompts.
- Accepted August 5, 2014.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics