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An Observational Approach to Testing Bi-Directional Parent-Child Interactions as Influential to Child Eating and Weight


Daniela Dell'Aquila

Obesity among children has been on the rise globally for the past few decades. Previous research has centred mainly on self/parent-reported measures examining only uni-directional parental feeding styles and practices. Recent discussions in the literature have raised the importance of bi-directional parent-child interactions in influencing children’s weight status. The aims of this paper are to highlight the importance of an observational approach when investigating positive bi-directional parent-child interactions during mealtimes and to outline how these interactions may be linked to positive child eating and weight outcomes. We examine the current literature on self-reported parental patterns and argue for the influential roles of responsiveness, affect and parental control dimensions within the parent-child dyad. Information about the ways in which the parent and the child can influence each other on these dimensions, as observed in parent-child interactions around food, is likely to provide greater insights into the aetiology of childhood obesity.