Exploring the association between parental anti-fat attitudes and restrictive feeding practices in a British and Irish sample

Type Article

Journal Article


M. D. A. Robertson; S. Dempster; L. Doherty; H. Sharpe

Year of publication










Parental restriction of food intake has been associated with heightened eating disorder psychopathology in some longitudinal research. Yet, relatively little is known about the determinants of restrictive feeding practices. This cross-sectional study explored the association between parents' anti-fat attitudes and their use of restrictive feeding practices in a mixed British (41.10% England, 39.90% Scotland, 4.20% Other) and Irish (14.80%) sample. Parents and caregivers (N = 472; 94.10% female; 70.90% university level education) of children between the ages of 4-8 (48.20% female; 91.10% rated as normal weight" by their parents) completed self-report questionnaires assessing their anti-fat attitudes (dislike, fear, and blame subscales), use of restrictive feeding practices (for weight control, health purposes, and covert restriction), and how influential their child's body-weight and -shape is for their perception of themselves as parents. Overall, our hypothesis that parental anti-fat attitudes would be significantly associated with restrictive feeding practices was supported. Anti-fat attitudes related to disliking higher body-weight people and blaming parents for their child's weight were significant predictors of all forms of restrictive feeding (all ps  .05). Additionally, our hypothesis that the associations between anti-fat attitudes and restrictive feeding practices would be stronger for parents for whom their child's body-weight and -shape more strongly influenced how they judged themselves as parents was not supported (the interaction term was not significant in two out of three analyses). Future research is needed to investigate these associations across time and in samples of higher body-weight children."