Caregiver Influences on Eating Behaviors in Young Children: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

Alexis Wood, Jacqueline Blissett, Jeffrey Michael Brunstrom, Susan Carnell, Myles Faith, Jennifer Fisher, Laura Hayman, Amrik Singh Khalsa, Sheryl Hughes, Alison Miller, Shabnam Momin, Jean Welsh, Jessica Woo, Emma Haycraft

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


A substantial body of research suggests that efforts to prevent pediatric obesity may benefit from targeting not just what a child eats, but how they eat. Specifically, child obesity prevention should include a component which addresses reasons why children having differing abilities to start and stop eating in response to internal cues of hunger and satiety, a construct known as “eating self-regulation”. This review summarizes current knowledge regarding how caregivers can be an important influence on children’s eating self-regulation during early childhood. First, we discuss the evidence supporting an association between caregiver feeding and child eating self-regulation. Second, we provide recommendations for caregivers on how to lower children’s obesity risk by supporting their eating self-regulation. Finally, we consider these recommendations in the light of a broader social, economic and cultural context and the implications of this context for implementation. As far as we are aware, this is the first American Heart Association Scientific Statement to focus on a psychobehavioral approach to reducing obesity risk in young children. It is anticipated that the timely information provided in this review can be utilized not only by immediate caregivers within the immediate and extended family but also by a broad range of community-based care providers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number10
Early online date11 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2020

Structured keywords

  • Nutrition and Behaviour
  • Physical and Mental Health


  • preschool
  • AHA Scientific Statements
  • pediatric obesity
  • satiation
  • appetite regulation
  • caregivers
  • child


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