Study finds tendency to obesity starts with pre-schoolers

October 28, 2010 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Study finds tendency to obesity starts with pre-schoolers
A new study from researchers at the University of Alberta has found that when it comes to understanding where and when tendencies to overweight and obesity develop, you have to begin with the very young.

To help address why a staggering 26 per cent of 2 to 17 year olds are overweight or obese in Canada, researchers examined four- and five year olds' avoidance or approach behaviours to food and their relationship with body weight.

To investigate, they recruited 1730 Canadian children into the study - an equal mix of boys and girls, and four and five year-olds.

Kids were classified according to body weight status and parents were asked to complete the UK-developed Children's Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (CEBQ), which has been used in European studies to establish the relationship between food behaviours and body weight in children.

Parents were given a list of statements relating to how their child responded to food, for example, "My child loves food," or "My child eats more when worried" and asked if or to what extent the behaviour occurred.

The results of the two-year study were in line with what researchers had anticipated. They found significant differences between the children in different weight status groups for food responsiveness, emotional over-eating, enjoyment of food, satiety responsiveness, slowness in eating, and food fussiness.

For instance, children who demonstrated approach behaviours were more likely to be overweight whereas children who demonstrated avoidance behaviours (such as fussy or slow eating) were more likely to be underweight.

Researchers are continuing to follow the children, who are now seven and eight years old to examine the long-term effects of their food behaviour and attitudes.

The study was published in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity.

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