Appetitive traits and food intake patterns in early life

Hayley Syrad, Laura Johnson, Jane Wardle, Clare H Llewellyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
290 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: High food responsiveness (FR) and low satiety responsiveness (SR) are 2 appetitive traits that have been associated longitudinally with risk of excessive weight gain; however, to our knowledge, no studies have examined the associations between these traits and eating patterns in daily life in young children.

OBJECTIVE: We tested the hypothesis that higher FR is independently associated with a higher meal frequency and that lower SR is associated with a larger meal size.

DESIGN: Data were from 1102 families (2203 children) from the Gemini twin birth cohort. Appetite was assessed with the use of the Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire when the children were 16 mo old (mean ± SD: 15.73 ± 1.08 mo old), and meal frequency (eating occasions per day) and meal size (kilojoules per eating occasion) were determined from 3-d diet diaries completed by parents when the children were 21 mo old (mean ± SD: 20.65 ± 1.10 mo old). Complex samples general linear models were used to explore cross-sectional associations between appetitive traits and meal variables.

RESULTS: After adjustment for the covariates gestational age, birth weight, sex, difference in age at diet-diary completion, and appetite measurement, higher FR was associated with more-frequent meals (B ± SE: 0.13 ± 0.04; P = 0.001) but not with meal size (P = 0.41), and lower SR was associated with a larger meal size (B ± SE: -47.61 ± 8.79; P < 0.001) but not with meal frequency (P = 0.15).

CONCLUSIONS: FR and SR predict different eating variables with more food-responsive children eating more frequently, whereas less-satiety-responsive children eat more food on each eating occasion. Different strategies may be required to reduce the potential effects of FR and SR on weight gain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-235
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
Early online date16 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • appetite
  • children
  • food intake
  • meal frequency
  • meal size

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