A mixed methods analysis of maternal response to children's consumption of a palatable food - differences by child weight status_2019.pdf

Background: Little is known about how mothers respond to their child eating
palatable foods.
Objectives: The objectives of the study are to examine maternal behaviours
when children are presented with a large portion of energy-dense palatable food
in an experimental setting and to examine differences by child weight status.
Methods: Mother–child dyads (N = 37) (mean child age 70.8 months) participated
in a videotaped eating protocol with cupcakes. Anthropometrics were measured.
Videos were analysed using discourse analysis and were reliably coded for
the presence or absence of the most salient theme. Analysis of variance examined
theme presence by child and mother weight status.
Results: Mothers disavowed responsibility for their child’s eating. Mothers
were observed to roll their eyes at the child, throw their hands up in exasperation
and distance themselves both physically and emotionally when the child ate the
cupcakes voraciously or with high enjoyment. Mothers of children with obesity (vs
recommended weight) engaged in more counts of disavowal (p = 0.01).
Conclusions: Mothers of children with obesity distanced themselves from
their child, seeming to disavow responsibility for the child’s eating of ‘junk food’.
Mothers may respond to their child’s seemingly gluttonous eating by disavowing responsibility
due to the stigma of being a parent of a child with obesity.