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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Fisher, Jennifer
item Butte, Nancy
item Jaramillo, Sandra

Submitted to: Obesity Research
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/9/2003
Publication Date: 9/9/2003
Citation: Fisher, J., Butte, N.F., Jaramillo, S. 2003. Eating in the absence of hunger as a behavioral phenotype of overweight hispanic children. Obesity Research. 11:A97.

Interpretive Summary: Not required for an abstract.

Technical Abstract: Research investigating the role of eating in the absence of hunger (EAH) in overweight children has been limited to studies of young non-Hispanic white girls from middle-income families. This research was conducted to determine the association of EAH with overweight in male and female Hispanic children ranging from 5-19 y and to determine the familial resemblance of this behavior. Hispanic families (n=184) with at least one overweight child participated as part of a larger study on determinants of obesity. EAH was evaluated in 452 children (216 males, 236 females) who indicated that they were no longer hungry after consuming an ad libitum meal offering 50% of estimated total energy expenditure (TEE). EAH was quantified as total energy consumed during a standard period of observation in which children were presented with generous portions of 10 palatable foods along with alternative activities (e.g. games, magazines). Body mass index (BMI) z-scores were calculated with measured heights and weights. Multi-level models using PROC MIXED were constructed to estimate the familial resemblance of EAH and the relationship between EAH and BMI. Approximately 55% of children were overweight (> 95th percentile BMI). Children's EAH represented, on average, 16.5% of TEE. Family membership explained explaining 27% of total variation in EAH scores (F=4.2, p<0.001). In addition, age-adjusted EAH was positively associated with child BMI (F=10.9, p<0.001), when controlling for family membership and gender. Children who were above the age-adjusted median for EAH were 2.1 times (p<0.01; 95% CI=1.3'3.2) as likely to be overweight as those who were below the median. Neither the main effect of gender nor the interaction of gender with EAH on BMI was significant. Expressed relative to TEE, EAH did not vary by child age. This research provides new evidence that EAH can be characterized at a family level and represents a behavioral phenotype of overweight among Hispanic children.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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