Differences in Approaches to Feeding Children as a Function of Parent Marital Status

Claire Piehowski, “Differences in Approaches to Feeding Children as a Function of Parent Marital Status”
Mentors: W. Hobart Davies & Paulina Lim, Psychology

The existing literature has limited background on comparing marital status and how this influences Pediatric Feeding Problems (PFPs). PFPs are an impaired oral intake that is not age-appropriate and is associated with medical, nutritional, feeding skill, and/or psychosocial dysfunction. The present study aims to compare the Feeding Strategies Questionnaire (FSQ), Mealtime Behavior Questionnaire (MBQ), and About Your Child’s Eating (AYCE) to address feeding-based problems using the biobehavioral and feeding dynamics approach among single parent and married parent households. A total of 1,028 parents with at least 1 child between the ages of 1-5 were recruited by students from a large midwestern university in an advanced undergraduate psychology lab course. Parents completed a demographics survey and the FSQ, MBQ, and AYCE as part of a larger online survey. An independent sample t-test demonstrated significant differences in FSQ measures of consistent mealtime schedule between single (M=16.6,SD=4.8) and married (M=17.9,SD=5.2) households (t(771)=-3.4, p=.001), child control of intake between single (M=29.3, SD=6.6) and married (M=30.5, SD=6.5) households (t(765)=-2.4, p=0.016), mealtime structure between single (M=27.9, SD=5.0) and married (29.9, SD=5.0) households (t(774)=-3.3, p=0.001), and encouragement of a clean plate between single (M=5.0, SD=2.2) and married (M=4.5, SD=2.1) households (t(792)=3.4, p=0.001). There were significant different in MBQ measures of food manipulation between single (M=11.9, SD=4.63) and married (M=10.7, SD=3.70) households (t(806)=3.91, p=0.000) and choking/gagging/vomiting between single (M=3.94, SD=1.87) and married (M=3.64, SD=1.58) households (t(809)=2.31, p=0.021). These results are consistent with our hypothesis in that individuals who identified as single have lower consistency in mealtime schedule, child control of intake, structure. Married status individuals may have higher scores on the measures due to shared responsibilities with a partner, leading to decreased stress on the feeding relationship. The present study should be replicated to further validate the current findings and expand on varying communities, cultures, and ethnicities.


  1. Hi! My name is Claire Piehowski and I am a senior undergraduate student studying psychology. In May, I will be graduating with my bachelors of science in psychology with a minor in cellular and molecular biology. This Fall, I will be continuing my education at Zilber School of Public Health where I will complete my Masters of Public Health. Thank you for taking the time to listen to my research and please let me know if you have any questions or comments!

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