Does body mass index in childhood predict restraint eating in early adolescence?

Forrester-Knauss, Christine;
Pädagogische Hochschule Thurgau
Perren, Sonja; Alsaker, Françoise D.

The aim of this study was (1) to examine whether childhood BMI is a significant predictor of restrained eating in preadolescents, (2) to investigate gender differences in restrained and emotional eating, and (3) to determine whether emotional problems, and body esteem were related to eating problems of preadolescents. In this longitudinal study with two measurement points, data from 428 children (50% female) were used. At time 1 (t1) children were on average 5.9 years old. BMI was assessed using objective measures. At time 2 (t2) participants were 12 years old. The adolescents and their parents completed questionnaires assessing restrained and emotional eating, body esteem, emotional problems, and BMI. Multiple regression analysis showed that restrained eating was significantly predicted by t1 BMI, by change in BMI between t1 and t2, and t2 body esteem. Emotional eating was, as expected, not predicted by t1 BMI, but associated with t2 body esteem and t2 emotional problems. Gender was not a significant predictor. The stability of BMI between childhood and preadolescence and its ability to predict restrained eating suggests that it is important to start prevention of overweight, body dissatisfaction and disordered eating at an early age.



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