The ‘Good Eater’ : modelling maternal perception of food fussiness in Australian toddlers – the NOURISH and SAIDI cohorts

Byrne, Rebecca, Magarey, Anthea, & Daniels, Lynne (2014) The ‘Good Eater’ : modelling maternal perception of food fussiness in Australian toddlers – the NOURISH and SAIDI cohorts. In 13th Annual Meeting of the International Society of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, 21-24 May 2014, San Diego, California. (Unpublished)



Food refusal is part of normal toddler development due to an innate ability to self-regulate energy intake and the onset of neophobia. For parents, this ‘fussy’ stage causes great concern, prompting use of coercive feeding practices which ignore a child’s own hunger and satiety cues, promoting overeating and overweight. This analysis defines characteristics of the ‘good eater’ using latent variable structural equation modelling and the relationship with maternal perception of her child as a fussy eater.


Mothers in the control group of the NOURISH and South Australian Infants Dietary Intake studies (n=332) completed a self-administered questionnaire - when child was age 12-16 months - describing refusal of familiar and unfamiliar foods and maternal perception as fussy/not fussy. Weight-for-age z-score (WAZ) was derived from weight measured by study staff. Questionnaire items and WAZ were combined in AMOS to represent the latent variable the ‘good eater’.


Mean age(sd) of children was 13.8(1.3) months, mean WAZ(sd), .58(.86) and 49% were male. The ‘good eater’ was represented by higher WAZ, a child that hardly ever refuses food, hardly ever refuses familiar food, and willing to eat unfamiliar foods (x2/df=2.80, GFI=.98, RMSEA=.07(.03-.12), CFI=.96). The ‘good eater’ was inversely associated with maternal perception of her child as a fussy eater (β=-.64, p<.05).


Toddlers displaying characteristics of a ‘good eater’ are not perceived as fussy, but these characteristics, especially higher WAZ, may be undesirable in the context of obesity prevention. Clinicians can promote food refusal as normal and even desirable in healthy young children.

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ID Code: 78033
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Refereed: No
Keywords: Toddler, Food fussiness, Structural Equation Modelling
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 27 Oct 2014 00:49
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2014 00:49

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