Introduction: Only a few studies have prospectively examined stability of eating behaviors in childhood. These argue that eating behaviors are fairly stable from early childhood onwards, but knowledge on individual patterns across childhood is lacking. Here, we examined patterns of eating behaviors from ages 4–10 years in a population-based sample and aimed to identify parental and earlylife predictors of these patterns. Methods: Participants were 3514 children from The Generation R Study with repeated assessments of the Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire at ages 4 and 10 years. Patterns of emotional overeating, food responsiveness, enjoyment of food and satiety responsiveness were studied with person-centered Latent Class Growth Analysis with the aim to identify sub-groups of children with distinct eating behavior patterns. Using univariate multinomial logistic and linear regression, parental and early life predictors of eating behavior patterns were examined. Results: We identified three patterns of emotional overeating (stable low (n = 2240); moderately increasing (n = 1028); strongly increasing (n = 246)) and five patterns of food responsiveness (stable low (n = 2343); high decreasing (n = 238); moderately increasing (n = 679); strongly increasing (n = 141); stable high (n = 113)) from 4 to 10 years. For enjoyment of food and satiety responsiveness a similar pattern was identified for all children. Obesogenic eating behavior patterns were associated with a higher birth weight and BMI, emotional and behavioral problems, maternal overweight/obesity and controlling feeding strategies. Discussion: This study suggests that children develop distinct patterns of emotional overeating and food responsiveness across childhood. Parental and early life predictors, particularly a higher weight status and psychiatric problems, are potential correlates of the development and maintenance of unhealthy eating behavior patterns across childhood. This knowledge might help identifying children at risk of developing obesogenic eating behaviors.

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Keywords Eating behaviors, Trajectories, Longitudinal, Childhood obesity
Persistent URL
Journal Appetite
Derks, I.P.M., Bolhuis, K, Sijbands, EJG, Gaillard, R, Hillegers, M.H.J, & Jansen, P.W. (2019). Predictors and patterns of eating behaviors across chidhood. Appetite, 141. Retrieved from