The following is excerpted from an online article posted by ScienceDaily.
Children fall broadly into four eating categories, according to new research at Aston University, and parents feed their children differently depending on those categories.
The four categories identified by Dr Abigail Pickard and the team in the School of Psychology are ‘avid,’ ‘happy,’ ‘typical,’ and ‘fussy.’
In the UK, around a fifth of children are overweight or living with obesity when they begin school, rising to around a third by the time they leave primary school at age 11. The team sought to identify eating behavior patterns and how these are associated with temperament, feeding practices, and food insecurity as a way to predict which children are more at risk of becoming overweight.
Typical eaters made up 44% of the children in the study, while fussy eaters accounted for 16%. But of greatest interest to the team was that around one in five young children in the study were found to show “avid eating,” including greater enjoyment of food, faster eating speed, and weaker sensitivity to internal cues of ‘fullness.’ The behaviors that distinguish children with avid eating from those who show ‘happy’ eating (17.7% of children in the study), who have similarly positive responses to food, are wanting to eat (or eating more) in response to the sight, smell or taste of palatable food, and a higher level of emotional overeating. In combination, these eating behaviors can lead to overeating and subsequent weight gain.
Dr Pickard said, “Parents can use this research to help them understand what type of eating pattern their child presents. Then, based on the child’s eating profile the parent can adapt their feeding strategies to the child. For example, children in the avid eating profile may benefit more from covert restriction of food, i.e., not bringing snacks into the home or not having foods on display, to reduce the temptation to eat foods in the absence of hunger. Whereas, if a child shows fussy eating behavior it would be more beneficial for the child to have a balanced and varied selection of foods on show to promote trying foods without pressure to eat.”