Obesity traced to early eating habits

Oct. 29, 2010 at 1:03 AM
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EDMONTON, Alberta, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Food behaviors formed when children are very young may lead to obesity, Canadian researchers suggest.

Study leader John Spence of the University of Alberta in Edmonton found a linear relationship between food avoidance/approach behavioral patterns across body weight groups in 4- and 5-year-old children.

The study, published in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, suggests parents may be rewarding children for certain types of behaviors.

"It does appear that children, not surprisingly, who are demonstrating approach behaviors to food -- eating when upset, or eating when bored, for example -- are going to be more overweight whereas children who are demonstrating avoidance behaviours -- such as fussy or slow eating -- are more likely to be underweight," Spence says in statement. "But the issue now is: How do children develop these approach or avoidance tendencies to food?"

Spence and his team recruited 1,730 Canadian children into the study -- half boys and half girls -- and classified them according to body weight status. Parents were asked to agree or disagree with statements such as "My child loves food" or "My child eats more when worried" and asked if or to what extent the behavior occurred.

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