Academic journal article Childhood Obesity

Do Parents Treat Siblings Similarly or Differently with Regard to Feeding Practices, Weight-Related Conversations, and Support for Physical Activity? an Exploratory Analysis

Academic journal article Childhood Obesity

Do Parents Treat Siblings Similarly or Differently with Regard to Feeding Practices, Weight-Related Conversations, and Support for Physical Activity? an Exploratory Analysis

Article excerpt

[Author Affiliation]

Jerica M. Berge. 1 Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN.

Craig Meyer. 2 Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

Richard F. MacLehose. 2 Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

Katie Loth. 1 Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN. 3 Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer. 2 Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

Address correspondence to: Jerica M. Berge, PhD, MPH, LMFT, CFLE, University of Minnesota Medical School, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, 717 Delaware Street SE, Room 424, Minneapolis, MN 55455, E-mail: jberge@umn.edu

Introduction

Many families have at least two children living in their household.1 However, very little is known about how parents respond to more than one child in the home with regard to weight and weight-related issues. For example, do parents adapt their feeding practices to accommodate siblings in the same household? Do parents talk about weight and weight-related topics similarly with siblings? And do parents provide similar levels of support for physical activity with siblings? Furthermore, it is unknown if parents adapt their feeding practices, conversations about weight and weight-related topics, or their support for physical activity depending on the weight status (i.e., one child is nonoverweight/obese and the other child is overweight/obese vs two siblings of similar weight status) or sex of the siblings.2 Such information has been critically missing in the field of childhood obesity and is relevant for designing effective family-based parenting obesity prevention interventions.

Although it is widely recognized that parents play an important role in shaping child weight and weight-related behaviors,2-11 previous research has been limited regarding how parents influence and differentially respond to two children (i.e., sibling dyads) within the same household with regard to parent feeding behaviors, weight-related conversations, or support for physical activity.4,12 The few studies that have been conducted have primarily focused on parent feeding practices. These studies have shown mixed findings. For example, some studies have found that parents used more restrictive feeding practices with children who were pickier than their siblings and applied more pressure to eat with children who enjoyed food less, were slower to eat, and were thinner than their siblings.13,14 Other research has shown no differences in maternal feeding practices between overweight/obese and nonoverweight/obese siblings15 or that mothers used restrictive feeding practices with both of their children (i.e., siblings), not contingent on siblings' weight status.16 These inconsistent results may be due to different measures being used, varying sample sizes (range = 15-80 participants), or the variety of age ranges (range = 3-12 years) included in samples. Additionally, these sibling studies have not examined differences by child sex or explored differential treatment between siblings on other potentially weight-related issues such as parent-adolescent weight conversations or parental support for physical activity. Finally, to our knowledge, there have been no studies exploring weight-related parenting practices within samples of adolescent sibling dyads.

Examining differences by sibling weight status and sex is important, given previous research with one child showing parents restrict more often with overweight/obese children and pressure more with nonoverweight/obese children2,17-20 and showing parents engage in more weight-related conversations with overweight/obese children and with boys. …

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