Early childhood appetitive traits and eating disorder symptoms in adolescence: a 10-year longitudinal follow-up study in the Netherlands and the UK

Ivonne P.M. Derks, Zeynep Nas, Holly A. Harris, Alice R. Kininmonth, Janet Treasure, Pauline W. Jansen, Clare H. Llewellyn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Background: Obesity and eating disorders commonly co-occur and might share common risk factors. Appetite avidity is an established neurobehavioural risk factor for obesity from early life, but the role of appetite in eating disorder susceptibility is unclear. We aimed to examine longitudinal associations between appetitive traits in early childhood and eating disorder symptoms in adolescence. Methods: In this longitudinal cohort study, we used data from Generation R (based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands) and Gemini (based in England and Wales). Appetitive traits at age 4–5 years were measured using the parent-reported Child Eating Behaviour Questionnaire. At age 12–14 years, adolescents self-reported on overeating eating disorder symptoms (binge eating symptoms, uncontrolled eating, and emotional eating) and restrictive eating disorder symptoms (compensatory behaviours and restrained eating). Missing data on covariates were imputed using Multivariate Imputation via Chained Equations. Ordinal and binary logistic regressions were performed in each cohort separately and adjusted for confounders. Pooled results were obtained by meta-analyses. Sensitivity analyses were performed on complete cases using inverse probability weighting. Findings: The final study sample included 2801 participants from Generation R and 869 participants from Gemini. Pooled findings after meta-analyses showed that higher food responsiveness in early childhood increased the odds of binge eating symptoms (odds ratio [OR]pooled 1·47, 95% CI 1·26–1·72), uncontrolled eating (1·33, 1·21–1·46), emotional eating (1·26, 1·13–1·41), restrained eating (1·16, 1·06–1·27), and compensatory behaviours (1·18, 1·08–1·30) in adolescence. Greater emotional overeating in early childhood increased the odds of compensatory behaviours (1·18, 1·06–1·33). By contrast, greater satiety responsiveness in early childhood decreased the odds of compensatory behaviours in adolescence (0·89, 0·81–0·99) and uncontrolled eating (0·86, 0·78–0·95) in adolescence. Slower eating in early childhood decreased the odds of compensatory behaviours (0·91, 0·84–0·99) and restrained eating (0·90, 0·83–0·98) in adolescence. No other associations were observed. Interpretation: In this study, higher food responsiveness in early childhood was associated with a higher likelihood of self-reported eating disorder symptoms in adolescence, whereas greater satiety sensitivity and slower eating were associated with a lower likelihood of some eating disorder symptoms. Appetitive traits in children might be early neurobehavioural risk factors for, or markers of, subsequent eating disorder symptoms. Funding: MQ Mental Health Research, Rosetrees Trust, ZonMw.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-279
Number of pages10
JournalThe Lancet Child and Adolescent Health
Volume8
Issue number4
Early online date20 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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