A research project - APPETItE - has been launched to examine feeding and eating in preschoolers with avid appetites, to understand more about different children’s susceptibility to ‘obesogenic’ environments and to inform the development of future tailored support for children and families.
The research team, who specialise in childhood eating behaviour, is led by Professor Jackie Blissett from Aston University, and includes Dr Emma Haycraft as well as colleagues from University College London and Kings College London.
Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. It places children at high risk of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers in adulthood. Understanding the factors which may help to prevent or reduce the risk of childhood obesity, and applying this understanding to develop effective interventions and support resources, is vital to solving this complex policy and practice challenge.
Some children, however, are more vulnerable to the development of obesity than others, due to their genetic susceptibility. The research aims to understand more about this.
The 3 year project, funded by the ESRC, will use existing longitudinal data from the Gemini study to monitor trends in children’s eating and examine the development of the relationship between children’s appetite and parents’ feeding practices across early childhood.
In the project’s second phase, children will be observed whilst taking part in various food related tasks, to assess which feeding behaviours might impact their eating behaviour and help understand the best way of regulating their food intake. A large-scale survey will also be conducted to assess children’s appetite traits in a diverse sample.
The findings will, together, help the research team to understand what can be done to support children who have an avid appetite to eat well.
Find out more
To find out more about Dr Haycraft's work, which includes the award-winning Child Feeding Guide and Vegetable Maths Masters, or enquire about the opportunity to collaborate with her, please visit her profile page.