Validation of a Classroom Version of the Eating in the Absence of Hunger Paradigm in Preschoolers

Emily E. Hohman, Katherine M. McNitt, Sally G. Eagleton, Lori A. Francis, Kathleen L. Keller, Jennifer S. Savage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Eating in the absence of hunger (EAH), a measure of children's propensity to eat beyond satiety in the presence of highly palatable food, has been associated with childhood obesity and later binge eating behavior. The EAH task is typically conducted in a research laboratory setting, which is resource intensive and lacks ecological validity. Assessing EAH in a group classroom setting is feasible and may be a more efficient alternative, but the validity of the classroom assessment against the traditional individually-administered paradigm has not been tested. The objective of this study was to compare EAH measured in a classroom setting to the one-on-one version of the paradigm in a sample of Head Start preschoolers. Children (n = 35) from three classrooms completed both classroom and individual EAH tasks in a random, counterbalanced order. In the group condition, children sat with peers at their classroom lunch tables; in the individual condition, children met individually with a researcher in a separate area near their classroom. In both conditions, following a meal, children were provided free access to generous portions of six snack foods (~750 kcal) and a selection of toys for 7 min. Snacks were pre- and post-weighed to calculate intake. Parents completed a survey of their child's eating behaviors, and child height and weight were measured. Paired t-tests and intraclass correlation coefficients were used to compare energy intake between conditions, and correlations between EAH intake and child BMI, eating behaviors, and parent feeding practices were examined to evaluate concurrent validity. Average intake was 63.0 ± 50.4 kcal in the classroom setting and 53.7 ± 44.6 in the individual setting, with no significant difference between settings. The intraclass correlation coefficient was 0.57, indicating moderate agreement between conditions. Overall, the EAH protocol appears to perform similarly in classroom and individual settings, suggesting the classroom protocol is a valid alternative. Future studies should further examine the role of age, sex, and weight status on eating behavior measurement paradigms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number787461
JournalFrontiers in Nutrition
StatePublished - Jan 5 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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