Relationship Between the Parents and the Child’s Eating Behaviour

Sofia Homem de Melo, Ana Rosa Tapadinhas


Objective: To understand the parent-child eating behaviour relationship that could be the key for the development of more adequate prevention strategies in the field of Obesity and Eating Behaviour Disorders. Method: Participants were 116 parents and respective 116 children with ages ranging from 8 to 12 years, attending the 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th school years at two private schools in the Lisbon area. Two instruments were used: Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI-3) and Eating Disorder Inventory for Children (EDI-C). Results: The results show a significant correlation between parent-child eating behaviour at the level of the EDI scales, especially the Eating Disorder Risk Composite (r = 0,221; p = 0,017) and the General Psychological Maladjustment Composite (r = 0,183; p = 0,050). The parent-child relationship was assessed observing variables that contribute to healthy or inadequate behaviours, such as the body mass index, BMI (r = 0,228; p = 0,014), sedentary activities [(television viewing (r = 0,238; p = 0,010) and computer usage (r = 0,263; p = 0,004)], and physical activity (r = 0,342; p = 0,013). Conclusion: These results enhance the importance of parents as co-agents, supporting the change in their children’s inadequate behaviour, once these behaviours are learned, shared and often kept within the family.


parent-child relationship; eating behaviour; eating disorders; obesity