Predictors of eating behavior in middle childhood: A hybrid fixed effects model
Children’s eating behavior influences energy intake and thus weight through choices of type and amount of food. One type of eating behavior, food responsiveness, defined as eating in response to external cues such as the sight and smell of food, is particularly related to increased caloric intake and weight. Because little is known about the potential determinants of such behavior, we focus herein on child and parent predictors of food responsiveness in a large community sample of Norwegian 6-year-olds, followed up at ages 8 and 10. To measure children’s food responsiveness, parents completed the Children’s Eating Behavior Questionnaire.
Potential predictors were children’s inhibition and symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and depression, and parents’ instrumental and controlling feeding practices as well as parental restrained eating. After accounting for children’s initial levels of food responsiveness within a hybrid fixed effects method that takes into consideration all unmeasured time-invariant confounders, more child attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms and greater restrained eating by parents predicted more food responsiveness at both ages 8 and 10. These results may provide important insights for efforts to prevent overeating.