A description of an 'obesogenic' eating style that promotes higher energy intake and is associated with greater adiposity in 4.5year-old children: Results from the GUSTO cohort

Anna Fogel, Ai Ting Goh, Lisa R Fries, Suresh Anand Sadananthan, S Sendhil Velan, Navin Michael, Mya Thway Tint, Marielle Valerie Fortier, Mei Jun Chan, Jia Ying Toh, Yap-Seng Chong, Kok Hian Tan, Fabian Yap, Lynette P Shek, Michael J Meaney, Birit F P Broekman, Yung Seng Lee, Keith M Godfrey, Mary Foong Fong Chong, Ciarán G Forde

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55 Citations (Scopus)


Recent findings confirm that faster eating rates support higher energy intakes within a meal and are associated with increased body weight and adiposity in children. The current study sought to identify the eating behaviours that underpin faster eating rates and energy intake in children, and to investigate their variations by weight status and other individual differences. Children (N=386) from the Growing Up in Singapore towards Healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) cohort took part in a video-recorded ad libitum lunch at 4.5years of age to measure acute energy intake. Videos were coded for three eating behaviours (bites, chews and swallows) to derive a measure of eating rate (g/min) and measures of eating microstructure: eating rate (g/min), total oral exposure (min), average bite size (g/bite), chews per gram, oral exposure per bite (s), total bites and proportion of active to total mealtime. Children's BMIs were calculated and a subset of children underwent MRI scanning to establish abdominal adiposity. Children were grouped into faster and slower eaters, and into healthy and overweight groups to compare their eating behaviours. Results demonstrate that faster eating rates were correlated with larger average bite size (r=0.55, p<0.001), fewer chews per gram (r=-0.71, p<0.001) and shorter oral exposure time per bite (r=-0.25, p<0.001), and with higher energy intakes (r=0.61, p<0.001). Children with overweight and higher adiposity had faster eating rates (p<0.01) and higher energy intakes (p<0.01), driven by larger bite sizes (p<0.05). Eating behaviours varied by sex, ethnicity and early feeding regimes, partially attributable to BMI. We propose that these behaviours describe an 'obesogenic eating style' that is characterised by faster eating rates, achieved through larger bites, reduced chewing and shorter oral exposure time. This obesogenic eating style supports acute energy intake within a meal and is more prevalent among, though not exclusive to, children with overweight. Clinical Trial Registry Number: NCT01174875; https://clinicaltrials.gov/.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-116
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdomen/diagnostic imaging
  • Adiposity
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child, Preschool
  • Energy Intake/physiology
  • Feeding Behavior/physiology
  • Female
  • Food Preferences/psychology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Obesity/physiopathology
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Pediatric Obesity/psychology
  • Time Factors
  • Touch Perception

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