The impulsiveness associated with fast food in children can lead to obesity
Children who eat more slowly are less likely to be extroverted and impulsive, according to a new study conducted by the University of Buffalo and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The research, which aimed to discover the relationship between temperament and eating behaviors in early childhood, found that little ones who were very receptive to food stimuli (the desire to eat when they see food, when they smell or taste it) were more likely to experience frustration and discomfort and have difficulty calming down.
These findings are essential because fast food and a greater response to dietary stimuli have been linked to the risk of childhood obesity, says Dr. Myles Faith, co-author and professor of counseling and psychological education at the UB Graduate School of Education.
The research, published in June 2021 in the journal Pediatric Obesity, supports the integration of temperament in studies and treatment of childhood obesity, a link considered necessary to exploit, a conclusion from a previous study.
“Temperament is linked to many child behavioral and developmental outcomes, however, despite emerging evidence, few studies have examined its relationship to pediatric obesity,” said Dr. Robert Berkowitz, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Research Program. of Eating Disorders at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The main co-investigator Alyssa Button, a doctoral candidate at the UB University School of Education, is the first author.
The researchers surveyed 28 participants who started a family intervention program to reduce the rate of food consumption in children aged 4 to 8, at risk of obesity.
The study examined the associations between three eating behaviors and three sides of temperament. Eating behaviors included:
- reaction to the feeling of satiety;
- reaction to sight, smell and taste of food;
- speed of food consumption.
And the types of temperament were:
- extroversion and impulsivity;
- self control;
- inability to calm negative emotions such as anger, fear and sadness.
Among the discoveries is the fact that little ones who respond well to the feeling of satiety have more self-control. More research is needed to understand the role parents play in their children’s temperament and eating behavior, says Button.
“Parents can use food to calm their children’s temperament and negative emotions,” says Button, a research specialist in the Department of Pediatrics at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. “Future research should examine the different ways in which parents feed their children in response to their temperament.” This would provide valuable information on strategies for creating sustainable, lifelong health habits.
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