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UK Society for Behavioural Medicine

The APPETItE Team presented a symposium at the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine conference on 29th March. Prof Jackie Blissett, Prof Claire Farrow, Dr Abigail Pickard, Dr Alice Kininmonth, and Dr Katie Edwards discussed current findings from the APPETItE project.

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APPETItE 2022 Summary

2022 has been a busy year for the APPETItE team, who have been meeting many of the goals outlined in the research plan.

The team down in London have been analysing the data collected on identical and non-identical twins eating behaviour. The data looks at many different variables that influence children's eating behaviour and the difference between the twins. Their work has shown that the child’s eating behaviour influences how parents feed their child but also vice versa; how parents feed their child influences the child’s eating behaviour. More specifically, parents will use food for emotional comfort if the child shows more emotional over-eating, but this then leads to increases in the child’s tendency to overeat in response to emotions. The research from the London group has been written up as three research articles which will be published in scientific journals.

At Aston University, significant progress has been made on work package 2, with data collected for two of the three planned studies. The first study asked 1000 parents/caregivers to rate their 3-6-year-old child's eating behaviour, the research team were then able to create groups that characterised the different types of eating that are common in childhood. There appear to be four different eating behaviour profiles in young children: avid, happy, typical, and fussy. The research team also found that certain factors, such as the child’s temperament (for example, how emotional or sociable the child is) are associated with their eating profile. The results of this study have been written up as an article that will hopefully be published in spring 2023.

Based on the children who were assigned to the avid eating profile, the Aston team were then able to look more closely at parents’ experiences and challenges of feeding their child. 15 interviews with parents/caregivers of children with high food enjoyment and responsiveness to food were carried out. The participants detailed the challenges they experience and strategies they use to manage their child’s eating behaviour. The interviews are currently being analysed and the results will be written up early next year.

Aside from conducting the research studies, the APPETItE team have been busy promoting the project, through talks and public events. Abigail and Jackie discussed the differences in children’s eating behaviour and the factors that partly determine these behaviours in an online lecture for Aston University, the link for the talk can be found here.  

What’s coming up

2023 is set to be a busy year for the APPETItE team, with several large studies planned to take place. In early 2023, a 10-day study using smartphones will be conducted with approximately 200 parents/caregivers across the UK. This data will look at the context in which children ask for food and how parents think and feel at these moments. In mid-2023, parents and their children will be invited into the lab at Aston University to take part in research investigating how to modify parents’ feeding practices to reduce the child’s food intake.


New research on emotional eating in children

Aston researcher Rebecca Stone and colleagues from Aston University and Loughborough University have published research looking at the role of parents' emotional eating, feeding practices and the child's temperament on children's emotional eating behaviour. Results showed that parents using food as a reward, or restricting food mediates the link between parents' emotional eating and children's emotional eating. 
Click the link below to read the Open Access article.


Children's emotional eating

Researchers from Aston University and Loughborough University recently published research investigating how parental emotional eating is linked to child emotional eating via parental feeding practices. They highlighted that differences in children’s food approach behaviours and temperament are important to consider in this relationship. Their results found that greater parental use of food as a reward and restriction of food for health reasons mediated the relationship between greater parent EE and child EE, but that this mediating relationship was only significant for children with higher food approach, or with more emotional temperaments. These findings suggest that parental feeding practices that are less responsive are a mechanism through which parent EE may shape child EE, but also that the strength of this relationship depends on the child’s own appetitive traits or temperament.


ThinkTank Event

Last week the APPETITE team along with the psychology department paid a visit to Birmingham’s ThinkTank Museum to talk to adults and children about the exciting work taking place in the Psychology Department at Aston University.
Click the link below to see the photos and find out more about the activities.

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New research article about children's vegetable consumption

Researchers from Aston University and the University of Birmingham recently conducted and published their research investigating how models' facial expressions when eating vegetables increased children's vegetable consumption. Their results found that children tasted and ate more than double the amount of raw broccoli after watching adults enjoy eating the same vegetable.


Want to get your children to eat their broccoli? SMILE! Kids who watch adults eat with positive facial expressions consume more than DOUBLE the amount of vegetables, study claims

The Daily Mail newspaper recently published an article based on the research work of Katie Edwards and her colleagues at Birmingham's Aston University on how parent's facial expressions influence children's acceptance of broccoli.

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Psychologists to tackle childhood obesity by studying avid eating behaviour

A team of psychologists are to start work on a three-year project that will assist parents to address over-eating in pre-school children who have large appetites. The group, which specialises in childhood eating behaviour is led by Aston University, and includes researchers from Loughborough University, University College London and Kings College London. It is a result of a long-standing collaboration between the team members. 

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