Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Rosalind Peters


Early onset pediatric obesity has become a major health concern in the United States. Pediatric obesity can lead to childhood hypertension, type II diabetes, and orthopedic problems. Currently, in the United States one in seven low-income preschools are overweight or obese. One of the key contributing factors to early onset childhood obesity is how children are socialized to the eating and mealtime environment. Maternal feeding styles play an integral role in how children are socialized to the eating and mealtime environment.

The purpose of the this study was to determine the extent to which maternal beliefs and behavior regarding the child's body weight status influenced the child's actual weight beyond the known risk factors for childhood obesity. To test the central hypothesis of the study four specific aims were pursued.

Guided by the theory of dependent-care the study utilized a descriptive correlational research design. The sample was 126 mother/child dyads recruited from a southeastern Michigan Head Start program. Each mother completed a research packet that contained a demographic data sheet, a maternal beliefs survey, a child activity survey, the Parental Feeding Style Questionnaire, the Caregiver Feeding Style, and the Child and Diet Evaluation Tool. A total of 170 packets were distributed and a total of 130 packets were returned for a response rate of 75%. Four packets were eliminated from data analysis due to missing data leaving a total of 126 packets included in data analysis.

Overall, results indicated that maternal beliefs such as nutritional knowledge and belief about the child's eating style were significantly associated with maternal feeding style. The maternal behavior of the authoritative feeding style was significantly associated with the child's health. The results provided support for the theoretical linkage between the dependent-care agency and dependent-care behaviors.

Overall, the study provides a description of maternal believes and behaviors related to the body weight status of a preschool-aged child. The study provides new information about the Caregiver Feeding Style Questionnaire and the Parental Feeding Style Questionnaire. Lastly, the study provides a some support for the theory of dependent-care and theoretical linkages that can be utilized in future studies.

Included in

Nursing Commons