Lunch-time food choices in preschoolers: Relationships between absolute and relative intakes of different food categories, and appetitive characteristics and weight

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Carnell, S.
Pryor, K.
Mais, L. A. [UNIFESP]
Warkentin, S. [UNIFESP]
Benson, L.
Cheng, R.
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Children's appetitive characteristics measured by parent-report questionnaires are reliably associated with body weight, as well as behavioral tests of appetite, but relatively little is known about relationships with food choice. As part of a larger preloading study, we served 4-5 year olds from primary school classes five school lunches at which they were presented with the same standardized multi-item meal. Parents completed Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire (CEBQ) sub-scales assessing satiety responsiveness (CEBQ-SR), food responsiveness (CEBQ-FR) and enjoyment of food (CEBQ-EF), and children were weighed and measured. Despite differing preload conditions, children showed remarkable consistency of intake patterns across all five meals with day-to-day intraclass correlations in absolute and percentage intake of each food category ranging from 0.78 to 0.91. Higher CEBQ-SR was associated with lower mean intake of all food categories across all five meals, with the weakest association apparent for snack foods. Higher CEBQ-FR was associated with higher intake of white bread and fruits and vegetables, and higher CEBQ-EF was associated with greater intake of all categories, with the strongest association apparent for white bread. Analyses of intake of each food group as a percentage of total intake, treated here as an index of the child's choice to consume relatively more or relatively less of each different food category when composing their total lunch-time meal, further suggested that children who were higher in CEBQ-SR ate relatively more snack foods and relatively less fruits and vegetables, while children with higher CEBQ-EF ate relatively less snack foods and relatively more white bread. Higher absolute intakes of white bread and snack foods were associated with higher BMI z score. CEBQ sub-scale associations with food intake variables were largely unchanged by controlling for daily metabolic needs. However, descriptive comparisons of lunch intakes with expected amounts based on metabolic needs suggested that overweight/obese boys were at particularly high risk of overeating. Parents' reports of children's appetitive characteristics on the CEBQ are associated with differential patterns of food choice as indexed by absolute and relative intake of various food categories assessed on multiple occasions in a naturalistic, school-based setting, without parents present. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Physiology & Behavior. Oxford, v. 162, p. 151-160, 2016.