Date of Completion


Embargo Period



parenting styles, healthy eating, body mass index, children, Latino, White-European

Major Advisor

Nairan Ramirez-Esparza

Associate Advisor

Blair T. Johnson

Associate Advisor

Amy Gorin

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This dissertation examined the relationships between general and food parenting practices, healthy eating indicators and child BMI in diverse sample of 30 families with a child from 3 to 5 years old (15 Latino families, 15 White-European families). This study used an innovative audio recording device to track caregiver-child interactions in natural environments, as caregivers and children went about their lives. Main findings of this study include that Latino caregivers tended to be less warm and encourage less their children to eat, both at the behavioral level and the caregiver-report level, compared to White-European caregivers. Inconsistent results were obtained regarding the relationships between caregiver-reports and behavioral markers of general and food parenting practices.

The findings on the relationships between general and food parenting indicators, healthy eating indicators and BMI are less consistent across the two cultural groups. Child BMI was not related to general parenting indicators in any cultural group but permissiveness caregiver-report was inversely related to child BMI in the case of White-European caregivers only. The behavioral markers of protection and monitoring, and discipline were related to increased intake of fruits only in the case of Latino caregivers. Caregiver-reports on encouragement to eat through rationale were positively related to the intake of vegetables only in the case of White-European caregivers. Permissiveness caregiver-report was positively related to intake of saturated fats in Latino caregivers only. No relationships were observed between child BMI and indicators of healthy eating and behavioral markers of food parenting practices. Taken together, the findings of this dissertation offer valuable insights into the nature of parenting and food parenting specifically in naturalistic settings. It also offers insights into how cultural background is non-monolithic and might act as a filter for different practices and relationships at different times and contexts. More research is needed from alternative theoretical frameworks to understand the findings and aid in the confirmation of the relationships found.