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Examining food parenting practices in military families

APA Citation:

Roys, B. E., & Balantekin, K. N. (2023). Examining food parenting practices in military families. Appetite, 185, Article 106545. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2023.106545

Abstract Created by REACH:

Food parenting practices can be positive, such as consistent feeding routines (i.e., structure), or negative, such as restriction or pressuring children to eat (i.e., control). This study examined differences in food parenting practices between civilian (n = 255) and military (n = 103) parents and identified factors related to military parents’ practices. Parents self-reported food parenting practices (i.e., structure and control), psychological factors (e.g., stress), and military experiences (e.g., relocations, deployments), as well as demographic characteristics (e.g., race, child height and weight). Overall, no differences emerged between civilian and military parents’ food parenting practices. However, some military-specific contexts were related to certain food parenting practices (e.g., families with multiple military parents tended to implement more consistent feeding routines).



Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Military families
Active duty service member
Spouse of service member or veteran
Child of a service member or veteran


Childhood (birth - 12 yrs)
Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Roys, Brooke E., Balantekin, Katherine N.


Food parenting practices impact child eating and weight outcomes. While there are currently no data examining food parenting practices among military families, research on general parenting has shown that military families are more likely to engage in authoritarian parenting practices. In addition, psychological well-being affects food parenting, and the military lifestyle is defined by how frequently they experience stressful demands such as deployment and relocation. The study objectives were to describe food parenting practices among military families by: (1) comparing food parenting practices between military families and civilian families; and (2) exploring associations between military (total military years, deployments, relocation) and psychological (stress, anxiety, depression) factors and food parenting practices. Participants includes 358 parents (103 military, 255 civilian) of children between the ages of five and 13 years. There were no significant differences in food parenting practices between military and civilian families. However, within military families, both total number of military parent and having more than one military parent were associated with increased structure-based food parenting practices. Having more than one military relocation was associated with more frequent pressure to eat and coercive control. While stress was associated with more frequent restriction, there were no associations between anxiety or depression and food parenting practices. These findings suggest that although food parenting practices of military families are similar to those of their civilian counterparts, there are specific psychological and military life factors that impact food parenting practices in this population.

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


food parenting practices, military children, military families, parent feeding

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  January 2024

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