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Parental feeding practices and child weight status in Bahraini families

Zahraa Sharaf, Maryam Alrashid, Safa Aburowais, Fatema Alrayes, Noor Altooq, Walaa Alherz, Sarah Alaraibi, Safa Abdulrahman, Mariam Abdulla, Fatema AlKhabbaz.


Background: Home environment shapes the eating behavior of children thus their weight status. Parental feeding practices (restriction, pressure to eat, and monitoring) are behaviors taken by parents to manage a child’s dietary intake.

Objectives: Raising awareness on the role of parental feeding practices in childhood obesity to allow for early parental intervention.

Materials and Methods: In this cross-sectional study, a sample size of 332 children (6–11 years old) was chosen conveniently form eight health centers in Bahrain in August–September 2018. A translated Arabic version of the Child Feeding Questionnaire (CFQ) was filled by parents. Anthropometric measurements of children were conducted. Descriptive statistics were used to describe mean item scores of the CFQ. Correlation tests determined relationships between parental feeding practices and body mass index (BMI)-for-age Z-scores. Chi-square statistics and independent sample t-tests compared parental perception of child weight and feeding practices.

Results: The prevalence of obesity among Bahraini children aged 6–11 years was estimated to be 16.87% and overweight was 14.46%. Obesity was more prevalent among males, while overweight in females. The predominant feeding practice was monitoring followed by restriction. Child BMI was negatively correlated with pressure to eat and positively correlated with restriction in males. No significant correlation was found with monitoring. About 56.0% of parents were found to misperceive their child weight status, 50.9% underestimated the weight status.

Conclusion: Childhood obesity has reached alarming levels, which may persist due to the parental misperception of child weight status. Avoiding restrictive feeding could limit this problem.

Key words: Child Feeding Questionnaire; Childhood Obesity; Parental Feeding Practices; Weight Perception

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