Associations between maternal sense of coherence and controlling feeding practices: The importance of resilience and support in families of preschoolers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Sense of Coherence (SOC) measures an individual's positive, or salutogenic, orientation toward her/his capacities, environment, future, and life. SOC comprises three factors: comprehensibility (the sense of one's own life as ordered and understandable); manageability (the perception of available resources and skills to manage stressors); and meaningfulness (the overall sense that life is filled with meaning and purpose). In numerous studies, SOC has been associated with resilience to stress. However, associations between parental SOC and controlling feeding practices have yet to be studied. This study examines the validity of the SOC 13-item, 3-factor questionnaire, associations between SOC and maternal and child characteristics, and associations between SOC and use of pressuring or restrictive feeding, among mothers of 4-year-olds. 565 mothers (23.5% of foreign origin, 30.3% with overweight/obesity) recruited via the Swedish population registry (response rate: 65%), completed the SOC-13, the Child Feeding Questionnaire (CFQ), and a background questionnaire. The validity of SOC-13 was examined using confirmatory factor analysis; associations with background characteristics and feeding practices were tested with structural equation modeling. SOC-13 validity testing showed acceptable fit (TLI = 0.93, CFI = 0.94, RMSEA = 0.06, SRMR = 0.04) after allowing one pair of error terms to correlate. The Cronbach's alpha for meaningfulness was 0.73, comprehensibility 0.76, and manageability 0.75. SOC increased with mothers' Swedish background and education, and decreased with higher BMI. Child gender, age, and BMI, were not associated with SOC. Lower SOC was associated with controlling practices and with concern about child weight and eating. The associations between SOC and feeding suggest that SOC-related parameters could inform childhood obesity research, and that prevention should address the socioeconomic barriers that parents face in building resilience to stress.


  • Karin Eli
  • Kimmo Sorjonen
  • Lincoln Mokoena
  • Angelo Pietrobelli
  • Carl Erik Flodmark
  • Myles S. Faith
  • Paulina Nowicka
External organisations
  • University of Oxford
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Uppsala University
  • Verona University Medical School
  • Pennington Biomedical Research Center
  • University at Buffalo
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • Children, Feeding practices, Obesity, Parents, Sense of coherence, Stress, Validity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-143
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 1
Publication categoryResearch