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Early influences on child satiety-responsiveness: The role of weaning style

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Abstract

Nutrition during infancy may have a long-term impact upon weight gain and eating style. How infants are introduced to solid foods may be important. Traditionally, infants are introduced to solid foods via spoon-feeding of purees. However, baby-led weaning advocates allowing infants to self-feed foods in their whole form. Advocates suggest this may promote healthy eating styles, but evidence is sparse. The aim of the current study was to compare child eating behaviour at 18-24 months between infants weaned using a traditional weaning approach and those weaned using a baby-led weaning style. Two hundred ninety-eight mothers with an infant aged 18-24 months completed a longitudinal, self-report questionnaire. In Phase One, mothers with an infant aged 6-12 months reported breastfeeding duration, timing of solid foods, weaning style (baby-led or standard) and maternal control, measured using the Child Feeding Questionnaire. At 18-24 months, post-partum mothers completed a follow-up questionnaire examining child eating style (satiety-responsiveness, food-responsiveness, fussiness, enjoyment of food) and reported child weight. Infants weaned using a baby-led approach were significantly more satiety-responsive and less likely to be overweight compared with those weaned using a standard approach. This was independent of breastfeeding duration, timing of introduction to complementary foods and maternal control. A baby-led weaning approach may encourage greater satiety-responsiveness and healthy weight-gain trajectories in infants. However, the limitations of a self-report correlational study are noted. Further research using randomized controlled trial is needed.
Early influences on child satiety-responsiveness:
the role of weaning style
A. Brown1and M. D. Lee2
1Department of Public Health and Policy Studies, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea, UK;
2Department of Psychology, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
Received 30 October 2012;revised 10 July 2013;accepted 15 October 2013
Summary
Background: Nutrition during infancy may have a long-term impact upon weight gain and eating style.
How infants are introduced to solid foods may be important. Traditionally, infants are introduced to solid
foods via spoon-feeding of purees. However, baby-led weaning advocates allowing infants to self-feed
foods in their whole form. Advocates suggest this may promote healthy eating styles, but evidence is
sparse. The aim of the current study was to compare child eating behaviour at 18–24 months between
infants weaned using a traditional weaning approach and those weaned using a baby-led weaning style.
Methods: Two hundred ninety-eight mothers with an infant aged 18–24 months completed a longitudinal,
self-report questionnaire. In Phase One, mothers with an infant aged 6–12 months reported breastfeeding
duration, timing of solid foods, weaning style (baby-led or standard) and maternal control, measured using
the Child Feeding Questionnaire. At 18–24 months, post-partum mothers completed a follow-up question-
naire examining child eating style (satiety-responsiveness, food-responsiveness, fussiness, enjoyment of
food) and reported child weight.
Results: Infants weaned using a baby-led approach were significantly more satiety-responsive and less
likely to be overweight compared with those weaned using a standard approach. This was independent of
breastfeeding duration, timing of introduction to complementary foods and maternal control.
Conclusions: A baby-led weaning approach may encourage greater satiety-responsiveness and healthy
weight-gain trajectories in infants. However, the limitations of a self-report correlational study are noted.
Further research using randomized controlled trial is needed.
Keywords: Baby-led, child weight, satiety-responsiveness, weaning.
Introduction
Childhood obesity remains a concern in the UK and
USA (1,2) with many negative health and social
implications (3). While there are multiple determi-
nants of obesity (4), there is increasing recognition
of the role of gene–environment interactions in
the development of obesity (5). Recently, Wardle
and colleagues have put forward the appetite–
environmental interaction model of obesity suggest-
ing that weight gain is the product of the interaction
between genetically determined appetite traits
and the environment (6). In a large cohort study,
children's satiety-responsiveness was negatively
related to body mass index (BMI) standard deviation
(SD) scores (7). Evidence in support of satiety-
responsiveness as a heritable component of appe-
tite comes from a subset of this cohort, who were
homozygous for the high risk A allele variant of the
FTO gene. Those with two copies of the A allele
had higher BMI and were also lower in satiety-
responsiveness as measured using the Child Eating
Behaviour Questionnaire (CEBQ) (8).
Given the strong evidence in support of an appetite
phenotype (6–8), which influences children's risk of
obesity, it is especially important to understand the
role the early feeding environment and to establish
the characteristics of an environment that amelio-
rates the risk of obesity. For example, one key
environmental factor is a controlling parental child-
feeding style, which has been shown to lead to
poorer appetite regulation (9,10). Controlling feeding
Address for correspondence: Dr A Brown, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK. E-mail:
a.e.brown@swansea.ac.uk
© 2013 The Authors
Pediatric Obesity published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Association for the Study of Obesity. Pediatric Obesity
••, ••–••
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
AB was supported by an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship.
AB was responsible for data collection, data analysis and initial draft. Both AB and MD revised the manuscript.
PEDIATRICOBESITY
ORIGINALRESEARCH doi:10.1111/j.2047-6310.2013.00207.x
ORIGINALRESEARCH
practices such as by restricting diet and pressuring
children to eat are associated with a decreased
ability to regulate intake according to appetite.
Restricting intake of food can lead to increased
intake when allowed free access (11,12), whereas
pressure to eat can lead to increased fussiness
(13,14). As a consequence, high levels of maternal
control can affect children's BMI and weight-gain
trajectories. Typically, restrictive practices have been
linked to increased weight gain (15), while pressure
to eat can lead to increased fussiness and subse-
quent underweight (16). However, it should be noted
that not all studies have found conclusive evidence
or rely on predominantly white, middle-class,
US-based samples (17,18).
Another aspect of the early food environment is the
choice of infant feeding method and the way in which
the transition to solids progresses. It is already
known that longer breastfeeding duration (19) and
later introduction to complementary foods (20) are
protective against later risk of becoming overweight.
Breastfeeding may promote satiety-responsiveness
in childhood (21), as breastfed infants have greater
opportunity to self-regulate their own intake of milk
(22). This may be due to lower maternal control
during milk feeding (23), as the quantity of milk
taken and duration of feeding is led by the infant.
Indeed, breastfed infants have a lower risk of
childhood obesity while infants who are bottle-fed
with either formula or expressed milk are at greater
risk of over-consumption and increased weight gain
(24).
It is also important to understand the potential
influence of weaning practices on the risk of obesity.
Later introduction to complementary foods and
maternal child-feeding style during this period are
associated with infant weight (16,25,26). Interest is
also growing in how infants are introduced to com-
plementary foods. Traditionally, infants are weaned
with puréed foods, which tend to be spoon-fed by a
parent/carer along with a gradual introduction to
finger foods (27). However, a recent popular trend in
weaning, baby-led weaning (BLW; Google search of
‘baby-led weaning’ produces over 1.1 million hits:
Accessed 24/06/12), emphasizes self-feeding rather
than spoon-feeding by infants from 6 months old
(28). Foods in their whole form are presented to the
baby, who self-selects, grasps, brings to the mouth
and consumes of its own volition (29,30). A reported
characteristic of BLW is that maternal control over-
feeding is minimal such that the infant decides which
food item is selected, how much of it is consumed
and the speed of consumption throughout an eating
episode (31,32).
Both breastfeeding and BLW place the infant in
control of intake (23,31,32). Given the positive
association between breastfeeding and satiety-
responsiveness, we hypothesize that BLW could
potentially maximize satiety-responsiveness and be a
positive environmental influence on the risk of obesity.
To date, evidence for this notion is mainly anecdotal
and based on small-scale studies (33,34). One study
has suggested that children who followed a BLW
approach during weaning are less likely to prefer
sweet foods and less likely to be overweight, although
sample size was small and based on self-report (35).
Alternatively, we have previously suggested that low
levels of maternal control encouraged by BLW and/or
associated tendency for breastfeeding in mothers
using BLW account for any improved outcomes rather
than self-feeding and absence of purées per se
(31,32). Furthermore, Sachs has questioned whether
BLW is quantifiably different from many parents who
introduce solid foods to their infant without consider-
ing themselves ‘baby-led’ (36).
The aim of this current study was twofold. Firstly,
we set out to examine whether infants weaned with
a baby-led approach exhibited differences in eating
behaviour during the second year compared with
those weaned using a standard approach. Secondly,
we further explored the role of maternal control,
breastfeeding duration and timing of introduction to
solid foods in these relationships. Here we report the
results of the second phase of a two-part study. In
Phase One, we showed that a BLW style was asso-
ciated with significantly lower levels of control com-
pared with mothers who followed a standard
weaning (SW) approach in babies between 6 and 12
months (32). In Phase Two, reported here, we col-
lected follow-up data 12 months later in order to
investigate how appetite traits such as satiety-
responsiveness at 18–24 months of age are related
to both weaning approach and maternal child-
feeding style during the weaning period.
Methods
Participants
Approval for this study was granted by the Depart-
ment of Psychology Research Ethics Committee. All
participants gave informed consent prior to inclusion
in the study. All aspects of this study have been
performed in accordance with the ethical standards
set out in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki.
In Phase One, 604 mothers with an infant aged
6–12 months (mean age 8.34 months) whom had
started consuming complementary foods completed
a questionnaire examining weaning style. Consent
2|A. Brown & M. D. Lee
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was sought from mothers to be contacted for poten-
tial follow-up. Four hundred twenty-three mothers
(70.26%) consented to being contacted. Mothers
were invited to take part in Phase Two when their
children were between 18 and 24 months of age.
Three hundred twenty-five mothers responded to the
request (76.8% of consented sample, 53.98% of
original sample). After exclusion criteria (child health
problems or severe issues with weight such as failure
to thrive, failure to give consent or incomplete survey
entry), 298 mothers remained in the full analysis
(70.45% of consented sample, 49.5% of original
sample).
In Phase One, mothers were recruited via local
mother-and-baby groups based in South West Wales
(UK) and through online parenting forums based in the
UK. For the groups, contact wa s made with group
leaders who distributed questionnaires to group
members. Questionnaires were returned to the leader
in a sealed envelope or via post to the researcher. In
addition, posters were placed in centres around the
city asking participants to contact the researcher for
further details via email, phone or post. Question-
naires had information letters attached with details of
how to contact the researcher if further information
was required. Study adverts were also placed on
specific research request boards on online message
boards on parenting forums based in the UK (e.g.
http://www.mumsnet.com; http://www.bounty.com)
with an online link to complete the questionnaire via
survey monkey. All participants were, however, based
in the UK. Details were given on how to contact the
researcher if needed. Participants completing the
questionnaire via paper or online copy were given a
written debrief at the end of the questionnaire and
given researcher contact details if they wanted further
information. All participants were given instruction to
contact their relevant health professional if completing
the questionnaire had raised any questions or issues
with regard to caring for their baby (32).
For Phase Two, data were collected predominantly
via an online questionnaire designed and hosted
using SurveyMonkey.com. Mothers who consented
to follow-up at stage one were sent a link to com-
plete the second part of the study online or offered a
paper copy. Overall, 94.96% of participants com-
pleted the survey online.
Measures
In Phase One, mothers reported their weaning style
in terms of degree of spoon and purée use. Mothers
were classed as baby-led weaners (BLW) if they
reported using both spoon feeding and purées 10%
of the time or less. Alternatively, if mothers reported
using both spoon-feeding and purées more than
10% of the time they were classified as SW. This
categorization was made during Phase One based
on the lack of formal definition of BLW. BLW is
defined by a lack of puree use and allowing the infant
to self-feed. Using a 10% cut-off for purée use and
spoon-feeding reflected the main tenets of the
method while allowing those who very occasionally
used purees or spoon-feeding (for example when
feeding a yoghurt or out in public) and identified as
being baby-led as to be included in the BLW group.
Further details are available in the initial study (31,32).
Based on this categorization, 351 (58.1%) partici-
pants in Phase One were classified as following a
BLW feeding style and 253 (41.9%) as following a
SW approach. Mothers also completed a copy of the
Child Feeding Questionnaire (CFQ) (37), reported
breastfeeding duration and timing of introduction to
complementary foods.
In Phase Two, mothers completed a second copy
of the CFQ (37) answering items targeting restriction,
pressure to eat, monitoring, concern for child weight
and perceived responsibility. Five scales of the CEBQ
[food-responsiveness', ‘enjoyment of food’, ‘satiety-
responsiveness’, ‘slowness in eating’ and ‘food
fussiness’] were also completed (38). The ‘food-
responsiveness’ scale measures desire of the child
to eat in response to food stimuli regardless of how
hungry they are. ‘Enjoyment of food’ reflects a posi-
tive eating style and enjoyment of eating. ‘Satiety-
responsiveness’ examines ability to regulate intake of
food in relation to satiety. Linked to this, ‘slowness in
eating’ reflects the speed at which a child eats.
Finally, ‘food fussiness’ is defined by picky and
limited food choices. Participants also self-reported
the current weight of their child.
Data analysis
Data analyses were carried out using Statistical
Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) v16 (SPSS
UK Ltd., IBM, Surrey, UK) Data were checked for
normal distribution and found adequate. The CFQ
(37) and CEBQ (38) are typically used for pre-school
aged and older children. Therefore, principal
components analysis using varimax rotation was per-
formed on both the CFQ and CEBQ to ensure that
the original factor structures held within this new
sample and age range (39). Factors with eigenvalues
over 1 were retained. A threshold of 0.5 was used
based on recommendations by Nunnally (40).
Factors produced mirrored those on the original
questionnaires. As a further test of reliability,
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Cronbach's alpha was computed for items loading
above the threshold onto each scale and found to be
over 0.7 for each scale. Therefore both the CFQ and
CEBQ were scored as per original instructions.
Infant birth and current weight were converted to z
scores. Current infant weight was also classified as
normal weight (5th–85th percentile), underweight
(<5th percentile) or overweight/obese (>85th percen-
tile) for infant age and gender according to the World
Health Organization Child Growth Standard Charts
(41).
A multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA)
was used to examine differences in child-eating
behaviour for infants weaned using a BLW or SW
approach while controlling for maternal education,
breastfeeding duration and timing of introduction to
complementary foods. The MANCOVA was then
repeated, controlling additionally for maternal control
at Phase One and Two.
Results
Weaning style
One hundred sixty-three (54.7%) of the Phase Two
sample had been classified as following a BLW style,
and 135 (45.3%) as following a SW style. This com-
pared with 58.1% of the original sample following a
BLW style and 41.9% following a SW style, suggest-
ing similar uptake of the Phase Two questionnaire in
the two weaning groups.
As found in Phase One, the BLW group had a
significantly higher level of education [F(287) =
3.2189, P<0.01] in comparison with those using a
SW approach, although no significant difference was
found for maternal age. Maternal education was
therefore controlled for throughout. There was no
significant difference in the age or education of
mothers who completed the Phase Two follow-up
compared with the whole sample in Phase One.
Mean current age of child was 21.46 months (SD:
3.05) ranging from 18 to 24 months. No significant
difference in child age was seen between the BLW
and SW groups. All children were considered fully
weaned in that they were reported to be eating a
wide range of family foods at regular meal times.
Infants who were weaned using a SW approach
were introduced to solid foods significantly earlier
than those weaned following a BLW approach
[t(287) =2.069, P<0.01].
Participants also indicated the age of their infant
when they were first introduced to foods in their
whole form [finger foods] (as opposed to purees, e.g.
toast, cooked carrot stick). Children were introduced
to finger foods (rather than first food per se) signifi-
cantly later [t(287) =3.018, P<0.003]. Therefore,
age of introduction to solid foods and finger foods
were also controlled for throughout.
Mean duration of breastfeeding in the sample was
26.11 weeks (SD: 23.27 weeks). No significant dif-
ference in breastfeeding duration was evident
between the two weaning groups [t(296) =−0.710,
P=0.478], although mothers in the BLW group
were significantly more likely to have initiated
breastfeeding at birth [t(296) =−3.211, P=0.001].
Breastfeeding initiation was therefore controlled for in
comparisons between groups.
Maternal child-feeding style
Significant differences in current maternal child-
feeding style were seen between those who weaned
using a BLW or SW approach. Mothers who followed
a BLW approach reported significantly current lower
levels of concern for child weight [F(1, 278) =6.714,
P<0.01], pressure to eat [F(1, 278) =5.273,
P<0.05], restriction [F(1, 278) =15.383, P<0.001]
and monitoring [F(1, 278) =5.808, P<0.05] com-
pared with mothers who weaned using a SW
approach. No significant difference was seen
between the two groups for perceived responsibility.
Child eating behaviour
AMANCOVA found significant differences between
those weaned following a BLW or SW style for the
Child Eating Behaviour measures of food-
responsiveness, satiety-responsiveness and food
fussiness (Table 2). No significant difference was
found for enjoyment of food. Those infants who had
followed BLW were reported to be significantly less
food-responsive and less fussy and significantly more
satiety-responsive than those following SW style (see
Table 1).
Breastfeeding duration was significantly associated
with satiety-responsiveness (Pearson's r=0.134,
P=0.01) and inversely associated with fussiness
(Pearson's r=−0.145, P=0.007). Infants who were
breastfed for a longer duration were reported as
significantly more satiety-responsive and significantly
less fussy.
Timing of introduction to complementary foods
was significantly inversely associated with fussiness
(Pearson's r=−0.179, P=0.001), but no other
behaviour. Infants who were weaned at an earlier age
were reported to be significantly more fussy at 18–24
months.
Age at which infants were introduced to finger
foods was significantly associated with food-
responsiveness (Pearson's r=0.182, P=0.001).
4|A. Brown & M. D. Lee
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Pediatric Obesity published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Association for the Study of Obesity. Pediatric Obesity
••, ••–••
Infants who were introduced to whole foods at an
earlier stage were significantly less food-responsive.
Child eating behaviour and maternal
child-feeding style
The association between maternal child-feeding
style at Phase One and Phase Two and current
eating behaviour was examined. Analyses were per-
formed separately for those in the BLW and SW
groups (Table 3). Phase One control was placed as a
covariate when examining the relationship between
control and eating behaviour at Phase Two.
Significant associations were found between
maternal control at Phase One and current eating
behaviour, but only for those in the SW group. High
levels of restriction were significantly associated with
lower levels of satiety-responsiveness, whereas
concern for infant weight was significantly associated
with higher levels of food fussiness. High levels of
pressure to eat were also associated with signifi-
cantly lower levels of enjoyment of food.
For Phase Two control, pressure to eat was signifi-
cantly positively associated with food-responsiveness
for both weaning groups while restriction was
Table 1 Maternal sample distribution by demographic
factors
Indicator Group BLW SW
n%n%
Age (years) 19 3 1.0 5 1.7
20–24 21 7.0 26 8.7
25–29 60 20.1 41 13.8
30–34 53 17.8 46 15.4
35 26 8.7 17 5.7
Education School 34 11.4 30 10.0
College 52 17.4 34 11.4
Higher 41 13.8 47 15.8
Post-graduate 36 12.1 24 8.1
Marital status Married 110 36.9 91 30.5
Cohabiting 15.4 15.4 36 12.1
Partner 1 0.3 4 1.3
Single 6 2.0 8 2.6
Maternal
occupation
Professional /
managerial
61 22.2 56 20.3
Skilled 18 6.5 14 5.1
Unskilled 43 15.6 30 10.9
Stay-at-home
mother
29 10.6 24 8.7
BLW, baby-led weaning group; SW, standard weaning group.
Table 2 Differences
in child eating
behaviour for infants
at 18–24 months
weaned following a
baby-led weaning
(BLW) or standard
weaning (SW) style
Behaviour Mean (standard error) Significance
BLW SW
Food-responsiveness 2.85 (.50) 3.18 (.45) F(1, 268) =16.143, P<0.001
Satiety-responsiveness 2.61 (.43) 2.42 (.38) F(1, 268) =5.492, P<0.05
Food fussiness 3.26 (.37) 3.03 (.32) F(1, 268) =5.535, P<0.05
Enjoyment of food 1.91 (.86) 1.84 (.73) F(1, 268) =.546, P>0.05
Table 3 Association between maternal control and later child eating behaviour at 18–24 months
Food-
responsiveness
Satiety-
responsiveness
Food
fussiness
Enjoyment
of food
BLW SW BLW SW BLW SW BLW SW
Maternal control
during Phase One
Concern for
infant weight
0.041 0.118 0.037 0.017 0.101 0.210** 0.011 0.044
Restriction 0.077 0.034 0.120 0.212** 0.167 0.091 0.069 0.009
Pressure to eat 0.071 0.130 0.025 0.022 0.018 0.065 0.029 0.327**
Monitoring 0.130 0.017 0.045 0.018 0.100 0.046 0.019 0.094
Maternal control
during Phase Two
Concern for
infant weight
0.012 0.188 0.041 0.008 0.022 0.071 0.086 0.64
Restriction 0.059 0.157* 0.171* 0.279** 0.012 0.135* 0.014 0.113
Pressure to eat 0.212** 0.227** 0.112 0.017 0.071 0.035 0.084 0.044
Monitoring 0.052 0.051 0.106 0.113 0.005 0.184* 0.061 0.103
*P<0.05, **P<0.01. BLW, baby-led weaning group; SW, standard weaning group.
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significantly associated with higher levels of food-
responsiveness (for the SW group) and lower levels of
satiety-responsiveness for both weaning groups.
Finally, among the SW group, both higher levels of
monitoring and concern for infant weight were asso-
ciated with increased food fussiness.
Child weight
No significant difference in birth weight or weight at
6 months was found between the two groups.
Current child weight was examined and compared
for the two weaning groups. Overall, 10.1% of the
sample (n=30) did not provide a current weight for
their infant. Of the remaining, infants in the sample
were predominantly within normal weight expecta-
tions for their age (74.5%, n=222). Of the sample,
11.7% were overweight (n=35) and 3.7% were
underweight (n=11).
Infants in the SW group were however significantly
currently heavier than those in the BLW group [F(1,
225) =7.931, P=0.005]. This relationship was inde-
pendent of birth weight, breastfeeding duration, age
of introduction to solid foods and maternal control at
both Phase One and Phase Two. Mean weight in
kilogram of infants in the SW group was 12.86 (SD:
3.73) compared with 11.79 (SD: 3.53) in the BLW
group.
Pearson's chi-square also revealed a significant
association between current weight category and
weaning style [χ2(2, 268) =8.100, P<0.017]. For
the BLW group, 86.5% were of normal weight, 8.1%
overweight and 5.4% underweight. In comparison,
78.3% of those in the SW group were normal weight,
19.2% overweight and 2.5% underweight. A greater
percentage of those infants who were overweight
followed a SW approach.
Infant birth weight, weight at 6 months and current
weight were unrelated to current child satiety or
food-responsiveness. However, current child weight
was significantly inversely associated with perceived
fussy eating (Pearson's r=−0.171, P=0.003).
Child eating behaviour, maternal
child-feeding style and weaning style
As child eating behaviour was associated with
weaning style, maternal child-feeding style, child
weight and weaning behaviours, the analyses
between weaning approach and later child eating
behaviour were performed for a second time, placing
maternal education, maternal child-feeding style,
breastfeeding duration, timing of introduction to
complementary and finger foods, birth weight and
current weight as covariates in the analysis.
AMANCOVA showed significant differences for food-
responsiveness [F(1, 249) =4.778, P<0.01] and
satiety-responsiveness [F(1, 249) =4.500, P<0.01]
remained between those following BLW or SW
approach. Infants weaned using a BLW approach
were rated as significantly less food-responsive and
significantly more satiety-responsive than those
weaned following a SW approach, independently of
maternal education, maternal control, breastfeeding
duration, child weight and timing of introduction to
complementary foods.
No significant difference between the two groups
remained for food fussiness once covariates were
accounted for.
Discussion
These results demonstrate for the first time the
impact of weaning approach and maternal behaviour
during the weaning period (6–12 months) on later
child eating behaviour at 18–24 months old. Mothers
who used BLW (infant self-feeds foods in their solid
form) had children who were perceived at follow-up
as having better appetite control and had a lower
BMI than children weaned using a SW style (spoon-
feeding puréed foods). These findings indicate that
the approach adopted at the time of weaning,
coupled with maternal feeding style, affect child
eating behaviour 12 months later.
In this sample, use of the BLW approach predicted
lower levels of food-responsiveness and higher
satiety-responsiveness compared with a SW
approach. High levels of food-responsiveness (desire
to eat in response to food stimuli regardless of
hunger) (42) and low levels of satiety-responsiveness
(ability to regulate intake of food in relation to satiety)
(43) have been associated with greater risk of child-
hood overweight. We suggest therefore that adop-
tion of a BLW approach provides an environment
during the development of eating patterns that pro-
motes eating according to appetite. Indeed, infants
in the SW group were significantly heavier than those
in the BLW group, with a greater proportion of SW
infants with a weight over the 85th percentile
(although it has to be recognized that the overall
number of infants above this centile was low).
There are a number of possible explanations why
infants following a BLW approach are more satiety-
responsive and less food-responsive. Firstly, it could
be argued that BLW is merely associated with other
behaviours that have been linked to specific
appetitive traits. For example, mothers who follow a
BLW style are more likely to breastfeed, introduce
complementary foods at a later date and use lower
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••, ••–••
levels of control over their infants intake of food,
(29,31) all of which are all associated with a
decreased risk of obesity (19–21). Mothers who
adopt BLW have consistently been shown to have a
high level of education, which is typically associated
with healthier child diet and weight (44) and this
was also reflected in this sample. However, we
found that use of BLW was associated with satiety-
responsiveness at 18–24 months independently of
maternal control, breastfeeding duration, timing of
introduction to complementary foods and maternal
demographic background.
Moreover, when exploring the association between
maternal control and eating style (where previous
literature has shown a link between high levels of
maternal control and a breakdown in self-regulation
(9,10)), BLW appeared to protect the infant from high
levels of maternal control. Whereas for those infants
weaned using a SW approach, maternal control both
during infancy and the current time period was asso-
ciated with poorer self-regulation, these relationships
did not exist, or were weaker, among the BLW group,
suggesting an intervening factor.
Potentially therefore, there is something unique
about BLW that sets it apart from SW methods.
Although speculative, it is plausible that by allowing
infants to choose which food offering to grasp
and bring to the mouth without much parental
involvement the pace and duration of eating
episodes are optimal for the development of satiety-
responsiveness. Infants are given greater opportunity
to determine the end point of a meal compared with
spoon-feeding where the parent may consciously or
subconsciously wish the set portion-size to be con-
sumed. Even when maternal desire for control is
higher, the ability of the infant to control the pace and
size of the meal may overcome this. Moreover,
greater participation in family meal times (30,45) may
extend meal duration and decrease overall eating
speed, which has been associated with increases in
physiological signs of satiety (46). Babies have no
notion of portion sizes or habitual plate clearing, and
when given the opportunity will likely determine when
the meal finishes without regard to how much food
remains uneaten. Ability to eat to satiety rather than
finishing the portion available may be an important
element in protection against overweight (47). Evi-
dence shows that pre-school children are less likely
to finish a larger-than-needed portion-size (48), but
that this ability reduces by later childhood and adult-
hood (49). A BLW approach may thus prolong or
protect this ability, increasing the likelihood of con-
tinued satiety-responsiveness into older childhood
and adulthood.
It is also possible that one of the benefits of BLW is
that it maximizes learning about the post-ingestive
consequences of food. Numerous studies have
demonstrated that sensory properties of food can
over a number of exposures become associated with
post-ingestive effects, e.g. visual cues, flavours and
textures become associated with how satiating that
food is (47). In turn, learned food experience influ-
ences food selection and portion-size choices appro-
priately (50). With BLW, foods are presented in their
whole form such as an apple or piece of chicken
rather than in a less-recognizable puréed form. More-
over, infants are often given a selection of discrete
food pieces to choose from (e.g. a piece of toast,
slices of banana). This contrasts with purées which
often consist of different foods and flavours mixed
together (e.g. a sweet potato, parsnip and carrot
purée) (31). For commercially prepared purées, the
main ingredient may not fit in with the main flavour of
the purée (e.g. a potato-based purée having a pre-
dominant broccoli flavour), setting up a relationship
between flavour and post-ingestive consequences
that will later change again as the transition is made
from purées to discrete food items. We postulate that
perhaps BLW enables early and more stable learning
about the satiating capacity of foods, thus promoting
satiety-responsiveness. This of course needs to be
tested empirically and it will be important to establish
if enhanced satiety-responsiveness continues further
into childhood.
Infants who followed a BLW style were also rated
as significantly less fussy than infants following a SW
style, supporting speculation that BLW fosters posi-
tive appetitive traits (34). However, once maternal
control was accounted for, this relationship disap-
peared and weaning style did not remain predictive
of fussiness in the regression analysis. This is not to
say a BLW approach is not associated with a wider
acceptance of foods, but that it may be explained by
the low level of maternal control involved in the
method. Indeed, lower levels of maternal control over
child diet have been associated with lower levels of
pickiness and fussiness in older children (51). This is
an interesting finding as it not only highlights the
impact of weaning style, but suggests that for those
who adopt a SW approach, doing so in a responsive
way may be beneficial to later food preferences in
children.
Finally, infants who followed a BLW approach were
significantly less likely to have a weight centile >85th
than those who followed a SW approach, supporting
previous findings (35). Placing the infant in control of
food intake and greater acceptance of a wider variety
of tastes may promote a healthier weight trajectory.
Weaning satiety-responsiveness |7
ORIGINALRESEARCH
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Pediatric Obesity published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Association for the Study of Obesity. Pediatric Obesity
••, ••–••
However, this association must be taken with caution
as weight was self-reported by parents and numbers
of infants in the overweight range were small. Further
research clearly needs to examine impact of BLW on
longer term weight trajectories.
These findings do need to be considered in light of
limitations. Firstly, the sample was self-selecting both
in terms of participation and decision to follow a
certain approach to weaning. It may be that parents
who are especially concerned with infant weight and
eating style or their own health choose to adopt a
BLW approach as they have heard anecdotal stories
about its benefits. Indeed, mothers in the BLW group
had a higher level of education, although this was
controlled for in the analyses. Another possibility is
that parents who follow a BLW approach are more
aware of the importance of eating to appetite and the
health benefits of and have a strong belief in the
ability of BLW to lead to positive eating styles and
thus influencing the way they complete the question-
naire. Further research should consider a population-
based sample or indeed a randomized controlled
trial.
Criticisms could also be made on the methodology
used, although in light of the dearth of research in the
area the sample and methodology were considered
appropriate for initial exploration. The current study
relied on self-report of child eating behaviour and
weight which could have been open to responder
bias or error. Analyses were also correlational and
cannot determine causality. Further research should
seek to observe child eating behaviour and measure
intake of nutrients and weight rather than rely on
parental report. Again, a randomized controlled trial
may be needed to ascertain impact of the approach
among other wider factors.
Additionally, measures to categorize BLW vs. SW
were devised for the study (see Methodology). In the
absence of a clinical definition of BLW, these meas-
ures were considered appropriate and felt to reflect
definitions in popular literature and discussion with
parents. Finally, the CFQ and CEBQ are also typically
used for older children (although the CFQ is consid-
ered valid from two years (37)). However recent work
in the area has employed (and validated (51)) these
measures in reference to children under the age of 2
years both for the CEBQ (53–55) and CFQ
(16,25,56,57). Child eating behaviour (58) and mater-
nal child-feeding style (59) are also considered stable
for older children.
It is also important to consider the role of infant
characteristics. Much emphasis is placed on intake
of food and infant weight gain during the weaning
period with mothers concerned about their infants
progress (60). If an infant is perceived as a fussy
eater, mothers may not feel confident in adopting a
BLW approach or allowing the infant opportunity to
Cself-regulate appetite. Instead, they may choose to
use traditional methods of purées and spoon-
feeding to have greater control and measure of what
their infant is consuming. Alternatively, they may
start the weaning process using a BLW approach,
but struggle and move to spoon-feeding. Child
weight and eating style can drive maternal child-
feeding style for older children (9,10), thus it is likely
for younger infants. Rather than BLW leading to an
infant who is more responsive and less fussy,
perhaps infants who are less fussy and more
responsive are more likely to start or continue fol-
lowing a BLW approach.
Linked to this, maternal personality may also play a
role. Previous work has shown that mothers who
follow BLW are lower in anxiety and feel more relaxed
specifically in relation to the weaning process than
mothers following a SW approach (30). Mothers who
are high in anxiety are more likely to use a restrictive
and controlling feeding style (61) and mothers who
are controlling in their parenting style are more likely
to use a controlling maternal-feeding style (62) and
have overweight children (63). Perhaps therefore,
mothers who are more anxious in general gravitate to
a SW approach as it allows greater control and
measurement, which in turn impacts upon child
weight and eating style.
Limitations aside, these findings raise important
questions not only in regard to the timing when
infants are introduced to complementary foods, but
how this process takes place. Evidence is starting to
build that a BLW approach may encourage a satiety-
responsive eating style to develop; understanding
how this works in greater detail may be an important
step in developing early interventions to combat
rising childhood obesity. Data, however, now needs
to move away from relying on parental self-report
(e.g. utilizing observations of child intake such as an
eating in the absence of hunger task) while subject
selection issues also need to be reduced through
randomization.
In summary, babies who transition from a milk diet
to solid foods using the BLW method show greater
satiety-responsiveness and decreased likelihood of
overweight at 18–24 months compared with those
using the standard spoon-and-purée approach.
Influences on childhood weight gain are complex
and driven at least partly by genetics. However,
potentially the BLW approach may provide a protec-
tive environment to ameliorate the overall risk of
obesity. Further research is needed.
8|A. Brown & M. D. Lee
ORIGINALRESEARCH
© 2013 The Authors
Pediatric Obesity published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Association for the Study of Obesity. Pediatric Obesity
••, ••–••
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... Three studies have explored responsive feeding, two of which found babies who followed BLW had a greater satiety responsiveness. These were conducted amongst UK children aged 18-24 months and Canadian infants aged 10-14 months (Brown and Lee, 2015;Campeau et al., 2021). The BLISS trial, however, found infants following the modified BLW intervention had lower satiety responsiveness at 24 months . ...
... The BLISS trial, however, found infants following the modified BLW intervention had lower satiety responsiveness at 24 months . It might be easier for mothers who have breastfed to follow BLW as both methods of feeding are low in control (Brown & Lee, 2015). ...
... Furthermore, Brown & Lee, (2015) suggested that spoon-feeding may have the potential to override appetite control, as control is maintained by the parent (Brown and Lee, 2015;Ventura, 2017). Involving a baby in food decisions may consequently lead to better appetite regulation and healthier weight gain during pre-school years (Brown and Lee, 2011). ...
Article
Nutritional exposures during pregnancy, infancy and early childhood can impact on both the short-term and long-term health outcomes of children. Pregnancy has often been described as a ‘teachable moment’, where women may have increased motivation to change their dietary and other health behaviours. Other teachable moments exist whenever families make choices around nutrition, such as breast or formula feeding, the introduction of solid foods and what to eat at home or at school. This thesis considers whether the promotion of healthy eating habits and adherence to dietary guidelines during these teachable moments, have the potential to improve the health outcomes of women and children. The eight papers included in the thesis represent an original contribution to knowledge. The two papers which explored women’s feelings about their weight, diet, nutrition, and physical activity (PA) during pregnancy, found that weight and lifestyle factors were often problematised without offering constructive solutions. Offering personalised advice, re-framed positively to focus on nutrients for maternal and foetal health, may help to address this. A service evaluation of a pregnancy weight management intervention found that where interventions are tailored and delivered by trusted health professionals, success can be achieved. Two systematic reviews found some limited evidence that very early introduction of solid foods (≤ 4 months) and high intakes of protein in infancy may contribute to overweight and obesity risk later in childhood. This suggests there is a need for continued promotion and support for families to meet recommendations to breastfeed and introduce solids from 6 months of age. Two further papers explored baby-led weaning (BLW) and found understanding of and adherence to the characteristics of BLW varied considerably amongst parents reporting using the method. Younger (6-8 months) infants following BLW had lower intakes of key nutrients, but differences disappeared by 9-12 months. Milk feeding may play a role in observed differences. A final paper explored why some families choose not to take universal infant free school meals. This appeared to be because the child rejected the food or due to concerns over what/how much the child ate and the quality of the meals provided. Health promotion activity should focus on the long-term healthy eating habits of women as the gatekeepers of the family diet, whilst recognising the challenges that women face during and following pregnancy.
... 5 Many benefits are expected for children using alternative methods of CF 6 such as the lower risk of consuming salt and sugar between 25 and 36 months of age, 7 lower risk of high body mass index in infants fed with infant formula, 8 greater exposure to consumption of vegetables and proteins, 9 less agitation during meals 10 , and greater satiety responsiveness. 11 However, the adherence of families to alternative methods of CF seems to be low, as demonstrated in a sample of children in Spain, where the prevalence of BLW, for example, was estimated at 2.1%. 12 Confidence in the child and difficulty measuring the amount ingested are recurring concerns of mothers who adopt the BLW or BLISS methods to feed their children, 13,14 which makes them choose for concomitantly using the FI method called mixed, in which they feed their children either with food cut into strips and sticks or with porridge and purees offered in a spoon. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: To assess the adherence to three methods of food introduction for 7-month-old babies. Methods: This is a randomized clinical trial conducted with mother-infant pairs, submitted to the intervention with five and a half months of age and three different methods for food introduction according to randomization: Parent-Led Weaning (PLW), Baby-Led Introduction to SolidS (BLISS), or mixed (specially developed for this study). Adherence to the method was assessed at the seventh month of age, via telephone call to the caregiver by a researcher blinded to the method. The analyses were performed using the Chi-Square test and data are presented in absolute numbers and percentages. Results: A total of 139 mother-infant pairs were evaluated; 46 of them were allocated to the PLW method; 47, to the BLISS; and 46, to the mixed. At seven months of age, 60 (43.2%) mothers reported that the infants were following the proposed feeding method. When analyzing each approach, the mixed method showed a higher likelihood of adherence (71.7%, n=33), followed by the PLW method (39.1%, n=18) and by the BLISS (19.2%, n=9) (p<0.001). Among the sample that did not follow the proposed method, those that had been randomized to the PLW and BLISS methods mostly migrated to the mixed method (92.9%; n=26 and 92.1%; n=35, respectively) (p<0.001). Conclusions: Complementary feeding in a mixed approach obtained greater adherence in 7-month-old babies.
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Diagnosis of obesity: beyond the BMI
Article
Background Complementary feeding practices may contribute to toddler eating practices that affect weight outcomes. Studies are needed to understand the relationship between complementary feeding practices and toddler dietary self-regulation. Objective This study tests the hypothesis that earlier complementary food introduction predicts toddler food responsiveness and emotional overeating (i.e., tendency to overeat in response to food cues and emotions, respectively), and considers whether introduction of certain foods better predict toddler dietary self-regulation. Design This study is a secondary analysis of data from a parent longitudinal birth cohort study on early growth/development among Hispanic mother-infant dyads. Participants/setting The analytic sample included 174 mother-child dyads recruited from maternity clinics affiliated with the University of Southern California in Los Angeles County. Recruitment and data collection were ongoing from 7/2016 to 4/2020. At 1-, 6-, 12-, and 24-months postpartum, mothers reported exclusive breastfeeding duration and age of complementary food introduction via questionnaire. Main outcome measures Child food responsiveness and emotional overeating scores calculated from the Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire at 12- and 24-months of age. Statistical analyses performed Separate linear mixed models with repeated measures were used to examine associations between age of complementary food introduction as a predictor of child food responsiveness or emotional overeating, controlling for infant sex, birth body mass index z-score, duration of exclusive breastfeeding, and mother’s body mass index. Results In separate models, delaying complementary food introduction by 1-month was associated with a 6% reduction in food responsiveness (p=0.007) and a 5% reduction in emotional overeating scores (p=0.013). Fifty-eight unique combinations of complementary foods introduced first were found, precluding analyses to examine whether specific combinations were related to eating behavior outcomes due to sample size limitations. Conclusions Earlier complementary feeding was associated with higher food responsiveness and emotional overeating scores among Hispanic children. Future studies in larger samples are needed to characterize patterns of complementary food introduction and their influence on child self-regulation.
Article
Background: This article reports the development and validation of a measure of parents' use of baby-led weaning (BLW). BLW is a child-centred approach to complementary feeding where the infant is allowed to eat whole foods (rather than purees) and explore a variety of foods and textures. To date, parents' use of BLW has been assessed using either single items or a wide variety of measures. Method: In this study, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses on independent samples supported three BLW subscales: independence, exploration, and family. Results: The final 13-item scale showed adequate fit statistics and good reliability (χ2 (62) = 115.02, p < 0.001; CFI = 0.98; TLI = 0.98; RMSEA = 0.05; SRMR = 0.06; exploration a = 0.738; family a = 0.715; independence a = 0.809). In addition, the scale demonstrated good external validity and related in theoretically expected ways to an infant feeding-style measure and parent report of complementary feeding approach. This study was limited as it was mostly white parents, and the scale should be validated on a more diverse sample. Conclusions: Future research can use this scale to examine if BLW relates to infant taste preferences, parenting styles, and child eating behaviours to improve child nutrition and health outcomes.
Article
Unlike the conventional parent-led weaning, baby-led weaning (hereafter referred to as BLW) is an approach that proposes harnessing the babies' own eating abilities by allowing them to choose what they want to eat based on their interests, and eat at their own pace. BLW is currently gaining ground around the world. Interestingly, in Japan, a book on BLW was translated into Japanese in 2019. Based on foreign literature, there is a possibility that BLW may lead to iron and zinc deficiencies compared to conventional weaning; however, there was no significant difference in choking risk. Benefits such as less food pickiness and less worry about becoming overweight due to self-regulating eating as a satiety response were identified. Overseas, based on the results of BLW and TW (traditional weaning) research, weaning methods for infants are being considered. In the future, while paying attention to safety issues such as choking, we will devise ways to proceed with weaning in consideration of the Japanese diet, and will promptly accumulate BLW research from related fields in Japan. We believe that this would influence the practice of BLW in Japan and its subsequent dissemination.
Article
Baby-led weaning (BLW), proposed as a new form of complementary feeding, has emerged as a real trend phenomenon in the media. Infants are seated at the family table from the age of 6 months, facing the foods they grab and bring to their mouth: they decide which foods they want to eat and what amount. The consumption of mashed foods and the use of a spoon are totally discouraged. BLW is increasingly used in nurseries and centers of young children. A bibliographic search carried out between 2000 and 2021 found 423 articles, of which 38 were selected. The clinical studies selected are 11 cross-sectional observational studies and two randomized controlled studies. BLW promotes breastfeeding, the early introduction of morsels, the respect of the child's appetite, the use of unprocessed foods, and the choice of “homemade” and friendliness. These benefits can nonetheless be reached with usual complementary feeding (SCF), according to current recommendations. Other benefits are claimed without scientific evidence such as easier achievement of dietary complementary feeding and an optimal growth with prevention of excess weight gain. BLW has some obvious downsides. The infant may not get enough energy, iron, zinc, vitamins, and other nutrients, or too much protein, saturated fat, salt, or sugar. The risk of choking, which must be distinguished from the physiological gagging reflex, has not been ruled out by scientific studies. Currently, the Nutrition Committee of the French Pediatric Society considers that the data published to date in terms of benefits and risks of BLW do not lend themselves to advice for this practice in preference over SCF carried out according to current recommendations.
Article
Background: Baby-led weaning (BLW) centres on making the baby an active partner, rather than a passive recipient of complementary feeding. Key features of BLW include self-feeding foods in their natural form, eating with the rest of the family and consuming family foods. This differs from traditional weaning (TW) where parents initially spoon feed purees, alongside finger foods, before graduating to more textured food. Previous research, however, has suggested parents may not fully adhere to one weaning style. This study aimed to explore how the meaning and interpretation of BLW may contribute to the weaning style used. Methods: Messages and responses posted on three UK parenting forums, and relating to complementary feeding, were analysed using an interpretive thematic approach. Results: The characterisation of BLW by parents was varied but they described BLW having an ethos which included trusting the baby, role modelling, developing confidence with food and sharing the social aspects of mealtimes. BLW also offered an alternative to those actively seeking something different or a default for those whose baby refused purees or spoon feeding. BLW felt like a natural progression, with low parental effort for some, and a source of anxiety, stress, choking risk and mess for others. Many parents struggled to find a process (what to eat and when) within BLW, that they could follow. Finger foods were used synonymously with BLW but many mixed/blurred aspects of both TW and BLW. Conclusions: The interpretation of BLW varies considerably between parents and a broader definition of BLW may be required, along with guidance on the process and purpose of BLW. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Chapter
A complex interaction of skills and behaviors, across developmental domains, underlie an infant’s ability to transition from a liquid diet to more complex texture and flavors with family foods. Eating requires coordination of skills (motor, cognitive, and sensory) that progress among healthy infants and young children within a window of time, yet variations in typical age ranges of skill acquisition are commonly reported. This narrative review provides a summary of developmental processes related to newborn feeding, through the introduction of complementary feeding, to the transition of child self-feeding. Factors influencing developmental domains are identified and strategies to assist parents and healthcare professionals in teaching children the skills for eating a variety of healthy and developmentally appropriate foods are provided.
Article
Worldwide, the prevalence of obesity among children has increased dramatically. Although the etiology of childhood obesity is multifactorial, to date, most preventive interventions have focused on school-aged children in school settings and have met with limited success. In this review, we focus on another set of influences that impact the development of children's eating and weight status: parenting and feeding styles and practices. Our review has two aims: (1) to assess the extent to which current evidence supports the hypothesis that parenting, via its effects on children's eating, is causally implicated in childhood obesity; and (2) to identify a set of promising strategies that target aspects of parenting, which can be further evaluated as possible components in childhood obesity prevention. Methods: A literature review was conducted between October 2006 and January 2007. Studies published before January 2007 that assessed the association between some combination of parenting, child eating and child weight variables were included. Results: A total of 66 articles met the inclusion criteria. The preponderance of these studies focused on the association between parenting and child eating. Although there was substantial experimental evidence for the influence of parenting practices, such as pressure, restriction, modeling and availability, on child eating, the majority of the evidence for the association between parenting and child weight, or the mediation of this association by child eating, was cross-sectional. Conclusion: To date, there is substantial causal evidence that parenting affects child eating and there is much correlational evidence that child eating and weight influence parenting. There are few studies, however, that have used appropriate meditational designs to provide causal evidence for the indirect effect of parenting on weight status via effects on child eating. A new approach is suggested for evaluating the effectiveness of intervention components and creating optimized intervention programs using a multiphase research design. Adoption of approaches such as the Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST) is necessary to provide the mechanistic evidence-base needed for the design and implementation of effective childhood obesity prevention programs. 1. Introduction
Article
Choice of weaning and infant foods was established among a group of 56 mothers resident in Edinburgh who had infants under 18 months of age. The survey looked at the use of commercial and home-made infant foods and aimed to identify the factors which influenced the decision to use commercial or homemade foods during weaning. Results indicate that, while convenience and perceived suitability for infants are a major factor in the decision to use commercial infant foods, first or only children are much more likely to be fed commercial infant foods. Mothers who were employed outside the home did not use commercial baby foods more than mothers who were at home with their children and, although older mothers were slightly more likely to make infant foods in the home, the differences were not statistically significant. While further work is essential to establish a nationwide view, these provisional results provide further insight into factors which affect choice of infant foods.
Article
Aim: Breastfeeding may reduce childhood risk of overweight. One explanation for this is that the baby-led nature of breastfeeding promotes appetite regulation as the infant has increased control of the amount consumed. However, the relationship between breastfeeding and later child eating style is largely unexplored. The aim of this study was to examine the association between infant milk feeding and later child appetite responsiveness. Methods: Two hundred and ninety-eight mothers reported breastfeeding duration and exclusivity up to 6 months post-partum when their infant was aged 6-12 months old. In phase 2, mothers completed the satiety responsiveness and food responsiveness scales of the child eating behaviour questionnaire and the child feeding questionnaire. Infant's birth and current weight were collected. Findings: Infants who were breastfed for a longer duration were rated as more satiety responsive (P = 0.001), although no difference was seen for feeding method at birth. Compared to infants who were formula fed from birth, at least 6 weeks of breastfeeding was required for increased satiety responsiveness to emerge. This relationship was independent of the current maternal child feeding style. Food responsivity was unrelated to any breastfeeding behaviour. Conclusions: Breastfeeding may promote satiety responsiveness potentially through the baby-led nature of feeding.
Article
Individual differences in several aspects of eating style have been implicated in the development of weight problems in children and adults, but there are presently no reliable and valid scales that assess a range of dimensions of eating style. This paper describes the development and preliminary validation of a parent-rated instrument to assess eight dimensions of eating style in children; the Children's Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (CEBQ). Constructs for inclusion were derived both from the existing literature on eating behaviour in children and adults, and from interviews with parents. They included reponsiveness to food, enjoyment of food, satiety responsiveness, slowness in eating, fussiness, emotional overeating, emotional undereating, and desire for drinks. A large pool of items covering each of these constructs was developed. The number of items was then successively culled through analysis of responses from three samples of families of young children (N= 131; N= 187; N= 218), to produce a 35-item instrument with eight scales which were internally valid and had good test-retest reliability. Investigation of variations by gender and age revealed only minimal gender differences in any aspect of eating style. Satiety responsiveness and slowness in eating diminished from age 3 to 8. Enjoyment of food and food responsiveness increased over this age range. The CEBQ should provide a useful measure of eating style for research into the early precursors of obesity or eating disorders. This is especially important in relation to the growing evidence for the heritability of obesity, where good measurement of the associated behavioural phenotype will be crucial in investigating the contribution of inherited variations in eating behaviour to the process of weight gain.