Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #356053

Research Project: Dietary Guidelines Adherence and Healthy Body Weight Maintenance

Location: Healthy Body Weight Research

Title: Eating responses to external food cues in weight discordant siblings

item Ufholz, Kelsey
item SALVY, SARAH-JEANNE - University Of Alabama
item FEDA, DENISE - University Of Buffalo
item EPSTEIN, LEONARD - University Of Buffalo
item Roemmich, James

Submitted to: Journal of Adolescent Health
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/6/2018
Publication Date: 3/21/2019
Citation: Ufholz, K.E., Salvy, S., Feda, D.M., Epstein, L.H., Roemmich, J.N. 2019. Eating responses to external food cues in weight discordant siblings. Journal of Adolescent Health.

Interpretive Summary: There is a need to determine factors contributing to obesity among adolescents. Evidence suggests that when exposed to food cues in their environment, overweight persons tend to consume more calories than non-overweight persons. This study examined same-sex adolescent sibling pairs, one overweight and one non-overweight. Results showed that overweight and non-overweight siblings consumed similar amounts of calories after exposure to a food cue. Siblings who consumed more calories did not tend to be more overweight than siblings who consumed fewer calories. This suggests that responsiveness to food cues is not a driving factor in weight differences between overweight and non-overweight siblings. Other environmental factors, unshared by siblings within the same family, should be investigated.

Technical Abstract: Background: Heightened responsivity to external food cues may promote increased energy intake and may be one factor that accounts for differences in adiposity between non-overweight and overweight adolescents. Studies of weight-discordant fraternal siblings control for some genetic and shared within-family factors, which allows for testing of putative non-shared factors of sibling weight differences. Objective: To determine whether same-sex weight-discordant (one non-overweight, one overweight) adolescent siblings differ in responsiveness to external food cues. Methods: Weight-discordant siblings (n = 38 pairs) were exposed to an appetizing food (pizza) on one day and a control activity (reading) on another day, and subsequently allowed to consume pizza ad libitum. Results: Siblings shared little similarity in terms of cue responsivity (Rho = 0.10). However, sibling zBMI difference was not associated with differences in cue responsivity. Moreover, when tested as groups, non-overweight and overweight siblings did not differ for cue responsivity (p>0.84). Conclusion: Though adiposity discordant adolescent siblings show little similarity in responsivity to external food cues, sibling differences in these factors were not associated with differences in siblings’ adiposity. Thus, other non-shared factors must contribute to adiposity differences of adolescents.