Parental feeding practices to manage snack food intake: Associations with energy intake regulation in young children
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Background Little attention has been directed to understanding the relationship between restriction and regulation of snack food intake in toddlers. Objective The aim of this study was to examine the effects of parental restriction of toddlers' eating of snacks in the absence of hunger (EAH) and to examine the impact of three contextual factors; snack food access, frequency of snack food consumption, and attraction to snack food. Design 64 parents and toddlers (aged 22–36 months) took part in a protocol to measure EAH (defined as kJ of energy-dense snack foods consumed). Mean EAH was 199 kJ (SD = 299), with 43 children consuming at least some snacks. Restriction was measured with the Child Feeding Questionnaire Restriction subscale. Snack food access was measured with Allow Access from the Toddler Snack Food Feeding Questionnaire (TSFFQ), snack food consumption was measured with a short snack food frequency questionnaire, and attraction to snack foods was measured with Child's Attraction from the TSFFQ. Moderated regression analyses tested interactions between Restriction and contextual factors in predicting EAH. Results EAH was associated with Restriction (r = 0.25, p = .05, 95% CI 0.004 - 0.47). There was an interaction between Restriction and accessibility of snack foods (R2 change = 0.08, p = .025); restriction was associated with EAH only when access to snack foods in the home was, on average, higher. The effect of Restriction on EAH was not moderated by frequency of snack food consumption or Child's Attraction. Conclusions These finding have practical relevance and reinforce the importance of the home food environment for managing young children's snack food intake.