Predictors of children’s eating behaviors: A prospective study
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- Institutt for psykologi 
Eating behaviors, notably eating behaviors conceptualized as appetitive traits, have been suggested as important determinants of individual differences in body weight and thus overweight and obesity. Such appetitive traits include emotional overeating, food responsiveness, enjoyment of food, satiety responsiveness and slowness in eating. Yet little is known about the factors that influence the development of these appetitive traits. Therefore, the current study prospectively investigated a range of predictors of appetitive traits related to both individual child characteristics and parent factors in a large population-based sample of children followed from age 6 to 8 years (N = 689). When adjusting for the initial levels of the specific appetitive trait in question at age 6 and the other predictors, the results showed that instrumental feeding and low levels of effortful control predicted emotional overeating at age 8, whereas instrumental feeding and parental restrained eating predicted food responsiveness at age 8. Enjoyment of food, satiety responsiveness and slowness in eating were not affected by any of the predictors investigated in this study. In conclusion, these findings support low effortful control and instrumental feeding as predictors of emotional overeating, and instrumental feeding and parental restrained eating as predictors of food responsiveness. These findings are relevant in providing a better understanding of the development of children’s eating behaviors, in addition to informing prevention and treatment strategies for childhood obesity.