Force feeding is the act of open another's mouth, placing food inside, and getting them to swallow when they clearly do not wish to do so. With children it is rarely needed - a child with a normal, healthy body will learn what it feels like to be hungry, associate that with eating, and take nourishment as their body requires.

In the USA there are three culturally acceptable reasons to force a child to eat when they are not hungry: 1) The kid wants to do something else (or is distracted by something else) and the parent knows they haven't had enough to eat. In this case the child may be hungry, but does not want to admit it because they are involved mentally or physically with something else. In such circumstances the child will complain later on that they are hungry. Our culture does not accept or accomodate frequent micro-meals so it is better for the child to learn that in our society people eat three main meals a day, and that skipping or eating too lightly at one is going to result in hunger which cannot be satisfied later when it occurs.

2) For nutritional and physical purposes. When one has a child and they understand/know the child they will be able to determine whether said child is eating enough of the right foods, and whether the child will be hungry later. This can be due to the child's inability to sense or understand their own hunger.

3) For punishment and/or teaching of cultural values. Many parents don't want their children to take more than they will eat and punish their children for taking more by forcing them to eat more of what's on their plate. This may be a result, however, of the parents preparing too much food. Americans, on average, prepare and present more food than we need to consume. A child who is trying to be like daddy or mommy may help themsleves to as big a serving as they see on their parents plate. The parents then force the child to eat what they've taken, perhaps to teach them to take less. It would be better in this case to prepare less food (or only put on the table what is likely to be eaten) and for the parents themselves to take smaller portions, simply eating more servings rather than filling their plate once. The cultural value of leaving a 'clean plate' is fairly strong in some households, and it can be quite a insult to the preparer of the food if food is left on the plate uneaten.

There are other reasons children are force fed, but the three above outline the most culturally acceptable in the USA. Eating is such a complex human behavior that it would be difficult to pick out force feeding as a significant or primary cause of later eating problems, but they are related since one learns lifelong eating habits as a child.