The Relationship Between Parent Anxiety Symptomatology and Feeding Behaviors



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With alarming rates of pediatric obesity, there is a pressing need to determine the causes of children’s maladaptive self-regulation of energy intake. Parent feeding behaviors influence children’s eating behaviors. Despite the high prevalence of anxiety among adults, the impact of parent anxiety on feeding behaviors is understudied. Hence, this qualitative systematic review utilizes PRISMA guidelines to synthesize current literature regarding the effects of parent anxiety on feeding behaviors. PubMed and APA PsycInfo were searched with an extensive keyword combination to identify empirical studies from peer-reviewed journals regarding the effects of parent anxiety on the feeding of normally developing children aged six months or older. After independent and blind screening rounds of 925 articles, ten articles were included for data extraction based on study design, goal, results, and limitations. A majority of the included studies indicate an association between parent anxiety symptomatology and nonresponsive, obesogenic feeding behaviors, which include restrictive and controlling feeding practices. However, there is a lack of consensus among the studies regarding the severity of impact of parent anxiety symptomatology on the development and utilization of nonresponsive feeding behaviors. Common limitations among the included studies are the use of self-reported data, cross-sectional design, and only mothers in the sample. Hence, future researchers should conduct longitudinal studies with objective parent-child mealtime observation to better assess the impact of parent anxiety on feeding behaviors and to support future healthcare professionals in guiding parents with anxiety and anxiety symptomatology towards optimal feeding behaviors.