Development and validation of parenting measures for body image and eating patterns in childhood Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Evidence-based parenting interventions are important in assisting parents to help their children develop healthy body image and eating patterns. To adequately assess the impact of parenting interventions, valid parent measures are required. The aim of this study was to develop and assess the validity and reliability of two new parent measures, the Parenting Intentions for Body image and Eating patterns in Childhood (Parenting Intentions BEC) and the Knowledge Test for Body image and Eating patterns in Childhood (Knowledge Test BEC). METHODS: Participants were 27 professionals working in research or clinical treatment of body dissatisfaction or eating disorders, and 75 parents of children aged 2-6 years, who completed the measures via an online questionnaire. Seven scenarios were developed for the Parenting Intentions BEC to describe common experiences about the body and food that parents might need to respond to in front of their child. Parents ranked four behavioural intentions, derived from the current literature on parenting risk factors for body dissatisfaction and unhealthy eating patterns in children. Two subscales were created, one representing positive behavioural intentions, the other negative behavioural intentions. After piloting a larger pool of items, 13 statements were used to construct the Knowledge Test BEC. These were designed to be factual statements about the influence of parent language, media, family meals, healthy eating, and self-esteem on child eating and body image. The validity of both measures was tested by comparing parent and professional scores, and reliability was assessed by comparing parent scores over two testing occasions. RESULTS: Compared with parents, professionals reported significantly higher scores on the Positive Intentions subscale and significantly lower on the Negative Intentions subscale of the Parenting Intentions BEC; confirming the discriminant validity of six out of the seven scenarios. Test-retest reliability was also confirmed as parent scores on the two Parenting Intentions subscales did not differ over time. Eleven out of the 13 Knowledge Test items demonstrated sufficient discriminant validity and test-retest reliability. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, results indicated that the six-scenario Parenting Intentions BEC and the 11-item Knowledge Test BEC are valid and reliable measures for parents of young children.

publication date

  • 2015