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Food fussiness in young children: the role of child temperament, feeding practices and sensory processing

Rendall, S. (2019) Food fussiness in young children: the role of child temperament, feeding practices and sensory processing. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00088043


Food fussiness is characterised by the rejection of familiar and novel foods, resulting in a diet that is inadequately varied and has negative implications for children’s current and future health. Food fussiness negatively affects family relationships and parental stress. Given these negative consequences, a strong understanding of risk factors for food fussiness is important for prevention and the development of effective interventions. Previously identified correlates and predictors of food fussiness include child temperament, child sensory hyperreactivity, maternal psychopathology, maternal core beliefs and maternal use of controlling feeding practices. To date there is a lack of studies examining these factors together. This thesis explored food fussiness in children aged 2-4 years. It comprised four studies: 1. Study 1 determined the relationship between child temperament, maternal psychopathology, maternal core beliefs and maternal self-esteem and food fussiness and found emotional child temperament to have the strongest association with food fussiness. 2. Study 2 validated maternal reported food fussiness against independently rated child food rejection and acceptance behaviours and found the food fussiness subscale of the Child Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (CEBQ; Wardle, Guthrie, Sanderson, and Rapoport, 2001) to be a valid measure of food fussiness. 3. Study 3 examined how emotional child temperament interacts with maternal feeding practices to explain food fussiness. Results showed that maternal use of verbal pressure and physical prompts moderated the relationship between emotional temperament and food fussiness. 4. Study 4 examined the relationship between food fussiness and both emotional temperament and sensory hyperreactivity. Results showed that sensory hyperreactivity in tactile, taste and olfactory sensory domains was positively associated with food fussiness. In addition, sensory hyperreactivity explained variance in food fussiness over and above emotional temperament. The findings highlighted child and maternal correlates of food fussiness in young children. The thesis concluded with the recommendation that children’s emotional temperament and sensory hyperreactivity, as well as mothers’ feeding practices, should be considered in the development of interventions designed to prevent and address food fussiness.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Harvey, K. and Dodd, H.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:88043

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