Interaction between parenting and childcare practices: mesosystem influences on children’s energy balance-related behaviour and overweight


  • J. Gubbels
  • N. De Vries
  • C. Thijs
  • S. Kremers


Background: The ecological perspective holds that human behaviour is influenced by multiple interacting environmental factors in various settings. The current study examines the mesosystem interaction between parenting practices in the home environment and childcare practices in the childcare environment, in influencing preschool children’s energy balance-related behaviour (EBRB) and weight status. Methods: The current observational study included 482 Dutch preschool children (age 1-4) who made use of childcare facilities. Parenting practices were assessed using the Comprehensive Feeding Practices Questionnaire (CFPQ) and the Preschooler Physical Activity Parenting Practices (PPAPP) questionnaire for parents. Childcare practices were assessed using the Childcare Food and Activity Practices Questionnaire (CFAPQ) for childcare workers. Children’s physical activity was assessed using Actigraph GT3X+ accelerometers, children’s diet (i.e. snack, fruit, vegetable, sugar-sweetened beverage and water intake) was assessed via a parental questionnaire. Children’s weight status was measured by trained research assistants. Multilevel regression analyses were deployed, controlling for the multi-level structure of the data, as well as for potential confounders. Findings: The findings show various significant interactions between parenting practices and childcare practices in influencing children’s EBRB and weight status. The influence of the childcare environment thus depends on what happens at home, and vice versa Discussion: The current findings are in line with ecological systems theory. The interactions between home and childcare demonstrate the importance of considering mesosystem influences on behaviour. As such, effects of existing overweight prevention interventions focusing on single environments may be limited by the moderating influences of other settings not taken into account.





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