Using food as a reward: An examination of parental reward practices
Abstract Eating patterns and taste preferences are often established early in life. Many studies have examined how parental feeding practices may affect children's outcomes, including food intake and preference. The current study focused on a common food parenting practice, using food as a reward, and used Latent Profile Analysis (LPA) to examine whether mothers (n = 376) and fathers (n = 117) of children ages 2.8 to 7.5 (M = 4.7; SD = 1.1) grouped into profiles (i.e., subgroups) based on how they use of food as a reward. The 4-class model was the best-fitting LPA model, with resulting classes based on both the frequency and type of reward used. Classes were: infrequent reward (33%), tangible reward (21%), food reward (27%), and frequent reward (19%). The current study also explored whether children's eating styles (emotional overeating, rood fussiness, food responsiveness, and satiety responsiveness) and parenting style (Authoritative, Authoritarian, and Permissive) varied by reward profile. Analyses of Variance (ANOVA) revealed that the four profiles differed significantly for all outcome variables except satiety responsiveness. It appears that the use of tangible and food-based rewards have important implications in food parenting. More research is needed to better understand how the different rewarding practices affect additional child outcomes.
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