Switching between foods is reliably associated with intake across eating events in children

N. V. Neuwald, A. L. Pearce, P. M. Cunningham, L. Koczwara, M. N. Setzenfand, B. J. Rolls, K. L. Keller

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Emerging evidence suggests switching between foods during an eating event is positively associated with intake. However, it is unclear whether switching is a stable behavior that predicts consumption across multiple eating events. The current study explored whether switching is consistent within children and reliably associated with intake across varied eating events. We analyzed data from 88 (45 F), 7–8-year-old children without obesity participating in a 7-visit prospective cohort study (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03341247). Amount consumed and energy intake were measured at 4 separate meals of foods that varied by portion sizes served. Meals included macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, broccoli, and grapes (all 0.7–2.5 kcal/g). Children's intake was also assessed during 2 eating in the absence of hunger (EAH) paradigms separated by ≥ 1 year. The EAH paradigm included 9 sweet and savory snack foods (all 1.9–5.7 kcal/g). All eating events were video-recorded and switching was assessed by counting the number of times a child shifted between different food items. Results demonstrated that switching was reliably associated with intake at both the meals and the EAH paradigms (ps < 0.01). Specifically, at meals each additional switch was associated with 11.7 ± 1.3 kcal (7.7 ± 0.8 g) more consumed, and during EAH each additional switch was associated with 8.1 ± 2.1 kcal (2.1 ± 0.5 g) more consumed. Switching behavior was also moderately consistent across meals (ICC = 0.70) and EAH paradigms (ICC = 0.50). However, switching at meals was not related to switching at EAH paradigms. This study demonstrates the consistency of switching behavior and its reliable association with intake across eating events, highlighting its potential to contribute to chronic overconsumption and childhood obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107325
StatePublished - Jun 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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