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Parental feeding practices in Mexican American families: initial test of an expanded measure

Jeanne M Tschann1*, Steven E Gregorich2, Carlos Penilla1, Lauri A Pasch1, Cynthia L de Groat1, Elena Flores3, Julianna Deardorff4, Louise C Greenspan5 and Nancy F Butte6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry, University of California at San Francisco, Box 0848, San Francisco, CA, 94143-0848, USA

2 Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, Box 0856, San Francisco, CA, 94143-0856, USA

3 Counseling Psychology Department, School of Education, University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA, 94118, USA

4 Division of Community Health and Human Development, School of Public Health, 50 University Hall, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 94720-7360, USA

5 Kaiser Permanente, 2200 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA, 94115, USA

6 Baylor College of Medicine, USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, 1100 Bates Street, Houston, TX, 77030-2600, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013, 10:6  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-6

Published: 17 January 2013



Although obesity rates are high among Latino children, relatively few studies of parental feeding practices have examined Latino families as a separate group. Culturally-based approaches to measurement development can begin to identify parental feeding practices in specific cultural groups. This study used qualitative and quantitative methods to develop and test the Parental Feeding Practices (PFP) Questionnaire for use with Mexican American parents. Items reflected both parent’s use of control over child eating and child-centered feeding practices.


In the qualitative phase of the research, 35 Latino parents participated in focus groups. Items for the PFP were developed from focus group discussions, as well as adapted from existing parent feeding practice measures. Cognitive interviews were conducted with 37 adults to evaluate items. In the quantitative phase, mothers and fathers of 174 Mexican American children ages 8–10 completed the PFP and provided demographic information. Anthropometric measures were obtained on family members.


Confirmatory factor analyses identified four parental feeding practice dimensions: positive involvement in child eating, pressure to eat, use of food to control behavior, and restriction of amount of food. Factorial invariance modeling suggested equivalent factor meaning and item response scaling across mothers and fathers. Mothers and fathers differed somewhat in their use of feeding practices. All four feeding practices were related to child body mass index (BMI) percentiles, for one or both parents. Mothers reporting more positive involvement had children with lower BMI percentiles. Parents using more pressure to eat had children with lower BMI percentiles, while parents using more restriction had children with higher BMI percentiles. Fathers using food to control behavior had children with lower BMI percentiles.


Results indicate good initial validity and reliability for the PFP. It can be used to increase understanding of parental feeding practices, children’s eating, and obesity among Mexican Americans, a population at high risk of obesity.

Feeding practices; Mexican Americans; Latinos, Child weight; Child obesity; Mothers; Fathers; Parent–child relationships; Scale development