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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Dietary Guidelines Adherence and Healthy Body Weight Maintenance Title: Children’s coping after psychological stress: choices among food, physical activity, and television

Authors
item Balantekin, Katherine -
item Roemmich, James

Submitted to: Appetite
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 14, 2012
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/56777
Citation: Balantekin, K.N., Roemmich, J.N. 2012. Children’s coping after psychological stress: choices among food, physical activity, and television. Appetite. 59:298-304.

Interpretive Summary: Children’s stress-coping behaviors and their determinants have not been widely studied. Some children eat more after stress. These are children who restrain their food intake on most days. Carefully controlled studies of stress eating in children have taken place in the laboratory where eating has been studied in isolation of other common stress coping behaviors of children. Children may not choose to eat when stressed if these other behavioral alternatives are available. The purpose of this study was to determine individual difference factors such as dietary restraint, usual TV watching, and usual physical activity that may moderate the duration of stress coping choices and to determine if stress-induced eating in youth persists when other stress coping behaviors are available. 30 children (8-12 y) completed a speech stressor on one day and read magazines on another day. They completed a free-choice period with access to food, TV, and physical activity on both days. Dietary restraint moderated changes in time spent eating and energy consumed from the control to stress day. Children high in dietary restraint increased their energy intake on the stress day. Changes in the time spent watching TV were moderated by usual TV time, as children higher in usual TV increased their TV time after stress. Thus, dietary restrained children eat more when stressed when other common stress coping behaviors are freely available. These results extend the external validity of laboratory studies of stress-induced eating.

Technical Abstract: Children’s stress-coping behaviors and their determinants have not been widely studied. Some children eat more after stress and dietary restraint moderates stress eating in youth, but eating has been studied in isolation of other coping behaviors. Children may not choose to eat when stressed if other behavioral alternatives are available. The purpose was to determine individual difference factors that moderate the duration of stress coping choices and to determine if stress-induced eating in youth persists when other stress coping behaviors are available. 30 children (8-12 y) completed a speech stressor on one day and read magazines on another day. They completed a free-choice period with access to food, TV, and physical activity on both days. Dietary restraint moderated changes in time spent eating and energy consumed from the control to stress day. Children high in restraint increased their energy intake on the stress day. Changes in the time spent watching TV were moderated by usual TV time, as children higher in usual TV increased their TV time after stress. Thus, dietary restrained children eat more when stressed when other common stress coping behaviors are freely available. These results extend the external validity of laboratory studies of stress-induced eating.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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