Using positive parent-child interactions as an alternative reinforcer to promote healthier eating among preschoolers

Eiden | Anzman-Frasca

One factor in the obesity epidemic is the relative reinforcing value (RRV) of food, or how rewarding someone finds eating compared to alternative activities. The promotion of alternative reinforcers, or rewarding activities that could take the place of eating, could offer a novel approach to decreasing obesity. This study will bring together the literature on food reinforcement and on parenting interventions in early childhood to test a novel approach to childhood obesity prevention. The overall objective is to promote positive parent-child interactions, hypothesizing that these could function as a novel alternative reinforcer, decreasing the RRV of food. Specific aims are to: 1) develop and test the validity of a measure of the RRV of food versus parent-child interaction among 4-to-5-year-old children and 2) conduct feasibility testing to inform further development of an intervention designed to promote positive parenting in the context of interactive book reading.

Co-principal investigators are Rina Das Eiden, PhD, of RIA, and Stephanie Anzman-Frasca, PhD, of the UB Department of Pediatrics. Co-investigators are Leonard Epstein, PhD, and Kai Ling Kong, PhD, also of the Dept. of Pediatrics. Funded by RIA’s Howard T. Blane Director’s Award for Development of Innovative Research in the Addictions (BDAA), 2017-18.