A pilot survey of socio-economic differences in child-feeding behaviours among parents of primary-school children

Heather R Clark, Elizabeth Goyder, Paul Bissell, Lindsay Blank, Stephen J. Walters, Jean Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Parents’ child-feeding behaviours have been implicated in children’s food choices and weight, but little is known about the social class distribution of parent’s child-feeding behaviours in the UK. The present study compares parents’ self-reported child-feeding behaviours in two socio-economically contrasting areas.

Design: A cross-sectional survey using the Parental Feeding Style Questionnaire. Mean scores were calculated for five child-feeding behaviours: control over eating, emotional feeding, encouragement/prompting, instrumental feeding and restriction. Parents’ self-reported child-feeding behaviours were compared with their sociodemographic characteristics.

Setting: Three primary schools in two contrasting electoral wards of Sheffield, UK.

Subjects: Two hundred and ten parents of children aged 4 to 11 years, recruited from a convenience sample.

Results: Parents in the least deprived ward reported using all five types of child-feeding behaviour more frequently than parents in the most deprived ward. After adjusting for parent sex, parent age, single parent status, employment status and level of education, emotional feeding was the only behaviour showing any evidence of a difference between wards. The most frequently used behaviours were control, encouragement and restriction – behaviours that might be used to directly influence children’s food intake and weight.

Conclusions: Child-feeding behaviours differ between areas within a single city and within a largely white population, and this distribution is related to socio-economic and educational factors. Experimental and longitudinal studies are needed to further investigate the potential role of child-feeding behaviours in childhood overweight and obesity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1030-1036
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


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