Examining behavioural susceptibility to obesity among Canadian pre-school children: The role of eating behaviours


Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, E-488 Van Vliet Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2H9, Canada. Fax: 1 780 492 2364. Email: jc.spence@ualberta.ca


Objective. No study has examined a comprehensive set of approach and avoidance eating behaviours and their relationship with bodyweight among North American children. The purpose of this study was to test whether a variety of individual eating behaviours differed among weight status groups in a sample of Canadian pre-school children. Methods. The sample included 4 and 5-year-old children (N=1 730), who attended a health center in and around Edmonton, Alberta, for a pre-school immunization shot between November 2005 and August 2007. A trained health assistant measured children's height and weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cut-off criteria were used to classify the children according to body weight status. Parents completed the Children's Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (CEBQ). A one-way between-groups multivariate analysis of variance was performed to investigate eating behaviour differences by weight status groups while adjusting for sex and neighbourhood socioeconomic status (SES). Results. Significant differences (p<0.01) were found between weight status groups for food responsiveness, emotional over-eating, enjoyment of food, satiety responsiveness, slowness in eating, and food fussiness. No significant differences were found for desire to drink or emotional under-eating. An inspection of mean scores showed graded positive linear patterns by weight for food responsiveness and enjoyment of food and graded negative linear patterns by weight for satiety responsiveness, slowness in eating, and food fussiness. Conclusion. Future research should examine whether eating behaviours can be modified to reduce children's risk of becoming overweight or obese. In addition potential determinants of eating behaviours should be explored.