The 2018 National Eating Disorders and Obesity Conference will be held at Twin Towns Services Club over 27-28 September.

Joining us at this year’s conference is Dr Kimberley Mallan, Lecturer at Australian Catholic University who will present on ‘Like Mother Like Child? Maternal Feeding Practices Mediate the Relationship Between Mother and Child Eating Behaviours’.


Maternal-reported child eating behaviour have been associated with observed eating behaviours and body mass index (BMI) with emotional overeating and food responsiveness in particular being linked with higher BMI. Current evidence indicates that in children food responsiveness has some genetic underpinning, whereas emotional overeating is a learned behaviour without a significant genetic basis. Thus, environmental influences on children’s eating behaviour – in particular maternal feeding practices – have been the focus of research and intervention to prevent childhood obesity. To date little research has explored the impact of mothers’ own eating behaviours on feeding practices, nor how the eating behaviours of mothers and children may be similar. Thus, the aim of the present study was to explore cross-sectional relationships between maternal and child eating behaviours, and to examine whether maternal feeding practices mediated these relationships. Mothers (N=330; mean age = 39.18 ± 5.5 years) with a child between 5-10 years (mean age = 7.85 ± 1.19; 48% male) completed an online survey that included validated measures of maternal eating behaviours, maternal feeding practices and child eating behaviours.

Both maternal emotional overeating and food responsiveness were positively associated with child emotional overeating and food responsiveness, respectively. Furthermore, the relationship between maternal emotional overeating and child emotional overeating was partially mediated by maternal use of food as a reward. The relationship between maternal food responsiveness and child food responsiveness was partially mediated by maternal use of overt restriction. Findings confirm a relationship between maternal and child eating behaviour and indicate that certain feeding practices may explain this association. The findings also provide support for the notion that certain maternal feeding practices may disrupt children’s eating self-regulation and lead to overeating. Future longitudinal research may assist to understand how the relationships between maternal and child eating and maternal feeding practices co-develop over time.


Dr Kimberley Mallan received a PhD in Psychology in 2007 from the University of Queensland and is currently a lecturer in psychology at Australian Catholic University and a visiting research fellow in the School of exercise and nutrition sciences at Queensland University of Technology. Kimberley has published over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and received funding as chief investigator for 3 project grants addressing nutrition related issues in infant, child and adult populations. Her primary research interest is the early feeding context and the development of eating behaviours and food preferences in infants and children.

For more information on the upcoming 2018 National Eating Disorders and Obesity Conference and to register your place please visit






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