Increased brain and behavioural susceptibility to portion size in children with loss of control eating

L. K. English, T. D. Masterson, S. N. Fearnbach, M. Tanofsky-Kraff, J. Fisher, Stephen Wilson, Barbara Jean Rolls, Kathleen Loralee Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Portion size influences intake (i.e. the portion size effect [PSE]), yet determinants of susceptibility to the PSE are unclear. Objective: We tested whether children who reported an episode of loss of control (LOC) eating over the last 3 months would be more susceptible to the PSE and would show differential brain responses to food cues compared with children with no-LOC. Methods: Across five sessions, children (n = 47; 7–10 years) consumed four test meals at 100%, 133%, 167% and 200% conditions for portion size and completed a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan while viewing pictures of foods varied by portion size and energy density (ED). Incidence of LOC over the past 3 months was self-reported. Random coefficient models were tested for differences in the shape of the PSE curve by LOC status. A whole-brain analysis was conducted to determine response to food cues during the functional magnetic resonance imaging. Results: Reported LOC (n = 13) compared with no-LOC (n = 34) was associated with increased susceptibility to the PSE, as evidenced by a positive association with the linear slope (P < 0.005), and negative association with the quadratic slope (P < 0.05) of the intake curve. Children who reported LOC compared with no-LOC showed increased activation in the left cerebellum to small relative to large portions (P < 0.01) and right cerebellum to High-ED relative to Low-ED food cues (P < 0.01). Conclusion: Children who reported LOC were more susceptible to the PSE and showed alterations in food-cue processing in the cerebellum, a hindbrain region implicated in satiety signalling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12436
JournalPediatric Obesity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Health Policy
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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