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The APPETItE project

Appetite in Preschoolers: Producing Evidence for Tailoring Interventions Effectively

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century, of major societal concern, placing children at high risk of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers in adulthood. Typically, childhood obesity begins in infancy and early childhood, with 90% of children who have obesity at 3 years continuing to have overweight or obesity in adolescence. Understanding the factors which may help to prevent or reduce the risk of childhood obesity, and applying this understanding to develop effective interventions, is of key importance to solving this complex policy and practice challenge.

Therefore, this research is divided into four work packages that aim to achieve the following four objectives:

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Work Package 1

Objective 1: To establish the directional and longitudinal relationships between food approach behaviour and parent feeding practice. To achieve objective 1, we will determine i) the extent to which parental feeding practices differentially affect the development of children's food approach, depending on children's individual baseline susceptibility to food approach ii) the direction of the relationship between children's food approach and parental feeding practices iii) whether the relationship between children's food approach and parental feeding practices varies across early development iv) the extent to which genetic factors influencing children's food approach can explain parental feeding practices and v) the degree to which genetic influences on children's food approach behaviour can explain parental feeding practice changes across the preschool period.

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Work Package 2

Objective 2: To document the views and perspectives of parents of children with high food approach behaviours. To achieve objective 2, we will i) establish how families with children who show high levels of food approach behaviours parent their children in the food context; ii) examine, in detail, the emotional, contextual and child food approach behavioural predictors of parental feeding practices in real time and real-life contexts.

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Work Package 3

Objective 3: To test whether specific feeding practices can change eating behaviour in children high in food approach behaviour. To achieve objective 3, we will establish the efficacy of specific feeding practices (which are feasible and acceptable to parents) in reducing palatable food consumption in a short-term, experimental setting, within the laboratory, for children high in food approach behaviours. The specific practices that we will evaluate will be determined by the outcomes of the first two work packages (Objectives 1 & 2).

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Work Package 4

Objective 4: To use the knowledge generated by work packages 1-3 to develop guidelines for future evidence-based intervention design, tailored to children with high food approach behaviours. To achieve objective 4, we will i) establish the views of parents and other stakeholders regarding the content and delivery of targeted intervention to improve outcomes for children with high food approach ii) determine which intervention format, focusing on digital delivery, stakeholders would find most helpful iii) determine other behaviour change strategies which could support implementation of feeding strategies and iv) establish the feasibility of further development of such an intervention in the future.

Open Science 

All of the research for this ESRC funded project supports open science initiatives. The study outlines and planned methodology are preregistered on the Open Science Framework platform and can be found at the link below.

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