Sorry Parents, Children Consume High Amounts of Candy before and after a Meal: Within-Person Comparisons of Children’s Candy Intake and Associations with Temperament and Appetite

Erika Hernandez, Amy M. Moore, Brandi Y. Rollins, Alison Tovar, Jennifer S. Savage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Candy provides little nutritional value and contributes to children’s energy intake from added sugars. Factors influencing children’s candy intake remain largely unknown. This study describes children’s total candy intake (kcal) before and after a meal and examines associations of candy intake in both conditions with children’s temperament and appetite among a predominantly White, highly educated sample. Children (n = 38, age 5–8 years) were given free access to 11 candies (5 chocolate, 6 non-chocolate) and non-food alternatives during a pre-meal and a post-meal condition. Parents completed the Child Behavior Questionnaire and the Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire. Total candy intake was less when offered after a meal (209.3 kcal; SD = 111.25) than before a meal when still hungry (283.6 kcal; SD = 167.3), but not statistically different. Individual differences in candy intake between conditions was calculated to categorize children into three groups: “Better Regulators” consumed more candy before a meal (39%), “Consistent/Poorer Regulators” consumed similar amounts before and after a meal regardless of hunger (32%), and “Most Disinhibited” children consumed more candy after a meal when not hungry (29%). The “Better Regulators” group was lowest in negative affect and the “Consistent/Poorer Regulators” group was highest in food responsiveness. Children’s candy intake was high relative to daily energy needs both before and after a meal. Child negative affect and food responsiveness appear to be child characteristics that predispose children to poor self-regulation of candy intake before and after a meal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number52
JournalChildren
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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