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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Emotion regulation strategies and childhood obesity in high risk preschoolers

Author
item POWER, TOM - Washington State University
item OLIVERA, YADIRA - Washington State University
item HILL, RACHEL - Washington State University
item BECK, ASHLEY - Washington State University
item HOPWOOD, VERONICA - Washington State University
item GARCIA, KARINA - Washington State University
item RAMOS, GUADALUPE - Washington State University
item FISHER, JENNIFER - Temple University
item O'CONNOR, TERESIA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item HUGHES, SHERYL - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)

Submitted to: Appetite
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/7/2016
Publication Date: 12/1/2016
Citation: Power, T.G., Olivera, Y.A., Hill, R.A., Beck, A.D., Hopwood, V., Garcia, K.S., Ramos, G.G., Fisher, J.O., O'Connor, T.M., Hughes, S.O. 2016. Emotion regulation strategies and childhood obesity in high risk preschoolers. Appetite. 107:623-627.

Interpretive Summary: Children's regulation of emotion may play a role in the development of childhood obesity. The goal of this study was to examine whether emotion regulation strategies would predict childhood weight status over and above measures of child eating self-regulation (paying attention to cues of hunger and fullness). Latino children, ages 4-5 years old, were recruited through Head Start centers in a large city in the southeastern U.S. Four emotion regulation strategies (shutting out stimuli, preventing movement, distraction, and attention to reward) were examined during an emotion regulation task (waiting for a larger food reward compared to a smaller immediate food reward). Results showed that children who were able to preventing their own movement by restraining hands and/or putting their hands under the table had a lower weight status. These findings help identify additional areas to address in childhood obesity prevention programs that may help decrease the onset of obesity.

Technical Abstract: The current study examined the relationships between the specific strategies that preschool children use to regulate their emotions and childhood weight status to see if emotion regulation strategies would predict childhood weight status over and above measures of eating self-regulation. 185 4- to 5-year-old Latino children were recruited through Head Start centers in a large city in the southeastern U.S. Children completed both a delay of gratification task (emotion regulation) and an eating in the absence of hunger task (eating regulation). Eating regulation also was assessed by maternal reports. Four emotion regulation strategies were examined in the delay of gratification task: shut out stimuli, prevent movement, distraction, and attention to reward. Hierarchical linear regressions predicting children's weight status showed that both measures of eating regulation negatively predicted child obesity, and the use of prevent movement negatively predicted child obesity. Total wait time during the delay of gratification tasks was not a significant predictor. The current findings are consistent with studies showing that for preschool children, summary measures of emotion regulation (e.g., wait time) are not concurrently associated with child obesity. In contrast, the use of emotion regulation strategies was a significant predictor of lower child weight status. These findings help identify emotion regulation strategies that prevention programs can target for helping children regulate their emotions and decrease their obesity risk.