Food parenting practices are considered to have a key influence on children's dietary habits, with potential long term effects. In this study, we explored the associations of parental feeding practices and family mealtime practices in early childhood with children's overall diet quality at school age among 3626 parents and their children in a population-based cohort study in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Parental feeding practices (monitoring, pressure to eat, and restriction) and family mealtime practices (meal skipping behaviors and family meal frequency) at age 4 years were assessed by parental questionnaires. Children's dietary intake was assessed at age 8 years using a food-frequency questionnaire, from which diet quality scores (range 0–10) were calculated, reflecting adherence to age-specific dietary guidelines. Using multivariable linear regression models, we found that monitoring was associated with higher diet quality of children (β = 0.12; 95%CI: 0.08, 0.16), whereas pressure to eat was associated with lower diet quality (β = −0.08; 95%CI: −0.12, −0.04)), both independent of child BMI. Restriction was associated with a higher child diet quality, but this association was explained by child BMI. As compared to children who did not skip meals, children who skipped meals had a lower diet quality (e.g. breakfast skipping: β = −0.32; 95%CI: −0.48, −0.17). Similarly, children who had less frequent family meals had a lower diet quality compared with those who had family meals every day (e.g. family dinner ≤2 days/week: β = −0.37; 95%CI: −0.60, −0.14). These associations were not driven by single food groups. In conclusion, parental monitoring and family mealtime routines in early childhood may provide a supportive food environment that promotes children's overall diet quality. Longitudinal studies with repeated measurements are needed to replicate our findings.

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Department of Epidemiology

Mou, Y. (Yuchan), Jansen, P., Raat, H. (Hein), Nguyen, A. N., & Voortman, T. (2021). Associations of family feeding and mealtime practices with children's overall diet quality: Results from a prospective population-based cohort. Appetite, 160. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2020.105083