Parenting Behaviors and Nutrition in Children with Leukemia

  • Lauren Kendrea Williams
  • Karen Elaine Lamb
  • Maria Catherine McCarthy


The aim of this study was to examine whether parenting behaviors are associated with child nutrition amongst pre-school children receiving treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and to determine whether this association differs from that observed amongst a healthy population. Participants were 73 parents of children aged 2–6 years. The children were either a) receiving treatment for ALL (n = 43), or b) had no major medical history (n = 30). Participants completed psychometrically validated questionnaires that assessed parenting behaviors and child diet. Increased parental overprotection was associated with higher fruit and vegetable consumption for the control group but lower fruit and vegetable consumption for the ALL group. Parental overprotection, inconsistent discipline and emotional feeding were positively associated with non-core (“junk”) food consumption for the ALL group, particularly those who had recently received steroid treatment. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to show that certain parenting behaviors may be associated with poor nutrition during treatment for ALL. In light of these results, parenting interventions, specifically targeting parenting behaviors such as assertive discipline, may be a mechanism for nutrition promotion amongst this vulnerable group.


Parenting Diet Psycho-oncology Cancer Pediatric oncology 



This study was funded by the Ponting Foundation and the Victorian Government Department of Human Services and the Victorian Government’s Operational Infrastructure Support Program. KE Lamb was supported under a National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence grant, ID#1035261, to the Victorian Centre for Biostatistics (ViCBiostat). We gratefully acknowledge the parents who participated in the study, Madeleine Bowden, the project research assistant who assisted with participant recruitment and Jessica Bastiani, a Masters in Clinical Psychology student who assisted with recruitment and data entry.

Conflict of interest

Lauren Kendrea Williams, Karen Lamb and Maria McCarthy declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren Kendrea Williams
    • 1
  • Karen Elaine Lamb
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Maria Catherine McCarthy
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Murdoch Children’s Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of Melbourne, The Royal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of HealthDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia
  4. 4.Children’s Cancer CentreRoyal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia

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