Faster Eating Linked To Obesity Risk In Children: Study

A recent study has found that impulsiveness tied to faster eating, can lead to obesity risk in children.

A recent study has found that impulsiveness tied to faster eating, can lead to obesity risk in children.

This study has been published in the journal of ‘Pediatric Obesity. The study has been led by the University at Buffalo and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The research has shown the relationship between temperature and eating behavior patterns in early childhood. It also found that kids who were highly receptive to external food cues (the urge to eat when food is seen, smelled, or tasted) were more likely to experience frustration and discomfort and have difficulties self-soothing.

Co-author and professor of counselling, school and educational psychology in the UB Graduate School of Education Myles Faith said, these findings are critical because faster eating and greater responsiveness to food cues have been linked to obesity risk in children.

Robert Berkowitz, MD, co-lead investigator emeritus professor at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Research Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said, “Temperament is linked to many child developmental and behavioural outcomes, yet despite emerging evidence, few studies have examined its relationship with pediatric obesity.”

Co-lead investigator Alyssa Button, a doctoral candidate in the UB Graduate School of Education, is the first author.

Around 28 participants beginning a family intervention program to reduce eating speed among 4- to 8-year-old children with or at risk for obesity were surveyed.

The integration of temperament into studies of and treatment for childhood obesity has been researched in the study, a connection Faith deemed in need of further exploration in a previous study he co-led.

The further study examined the associations between three eating behaviours and three surfaces of temperament. Temperament consisted of extroversion and impulsivity (also known as surgency); self-control; and the inability to self-soothe negative emotions such as anger, fear and sadness.

The eating behaviours included responsiveness to feeling full (internal food cues); responsiveness to seeing, smelling and tasting food (external food cues); and eating speed.

Among the findings showed that the children who respond well to feeling full exhibit more self-control. Hence, more research is needed to be conducted to understand the role parents play in their children’s temperament and eating behaviour said Button.

“Parents may use food to soothe temperamental children and ease negative emotions,” said Button, also a senior research support specialist in the Department of Pediatrics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

Button added, “Future research should examine the different ways parents feed their children in response to their temperament, as well as explore whether the relationship between temperament and eating behaviours is a two-way street. Could the habit of eating slower, over time, lead to lower impulsiveness?”

“This study established relationships between temperament and eating patterns in children; however, there is still the question of chicken-and-egg and which comes first?” said Faith.

“Research that follows families overtime is needed to untangle these developmental pathways,” concluded Faith.

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