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Keywords:

  • children;
  • obesity;
  • eating behavior;
  • family;
  • calorie intake

Abstract

Objective

To determine parental influences on obesity, the eating behavior of 80 obese and normal weight children (aged 8–12 years) was investigated in the laboratory.

Method

A controlled repeated measures design was used. The mother was either present or absent while the child was eating in the laboratory. The eating style was measured by recording cumulative eating curves with a universal eating monitor, using yoghurt as a standardized experimental meal.

Results

The eating behavior of obese children differed significantly from normal weight children only when the mother was present in the laboratory. Overweight children ate faster with larger bites and showed an acceleration of their eating rate toward the end of the meal.

Discussion

Such an eating style can be hypothesized to explain an increased calorie intake in obese children, promoting a positive energy balance in the long term. The data support a learning model of obesity in childhood, which also has implications for family treatment. © 2001 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 30: 447–453, 2001.