Title

The Assessment of Mindful Food Parenting and Its Relation to Parental Feeding Practices and Child Food Intake

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Psychology/Clinical

First Advisor

Dara Musher-Eizenman, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Dawn Anderson, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Robers Carels, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

William O'Brien, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Abstract

Overweight and obesity in childhood as well as poor eating habits are areas of great concern. While a variety of parenting styles and practices have been examined in their relationship to children's weight and food intake, no known research has examined the role of mindfulness in regard to food parenting. The primary aim of the current study was to explore the viability of measuring mindful food parenting using a novel survey instrument. Results from exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses with two samples of parents of 3- to 6-year-old children provides preliminary evidence for a four factor model of mindful food parenting (Present-Centered Awareness, Present-Centered Emotional Awareness, Nonreactivity, Nonjudgmental Receptivity). Additionally, the current study examined the relationship between mindful food parenting and other mindfulness variables, parental feeding practices, and child intake of different types of foods. Results indicate good convergent and divergent validity for mindful food parenting and other measures of intrapersonal and interpersonal mindfulness. Mindful food parenting factors positively predicted the feeding variables of encouraging balance and variety in children's food intake and healthy foods being available in the child's home across two large samples and negatively predicted parents' use of food to regulate children's emotions and parents' use of food as a reward across both samples. Additionally, the current study demonstrated that mindful food parenting with present-centered awareness consistently predicted child food intake in the direction expected across two large samples. Most notably, mindful food parenting predicted greater consumption of healthy foods and less consumption of unhealthy foods in both samples. Thus, the findings from the current study suggest that mindful food parenting may be relevant for interventions aimed at altering parents' maladaptive feeding habits and children's food intake.