Biological and Psychosocial Processes in the Development of Children’s Appetitive Traits: Insights from Developmental Theory and Research
Russell, Catherine G
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There has been increasing concern expressed about children’s food intakes and dietary patterns. These are closely linked to children’s appetitive traits (such as disinhibited eating and food fussiness/neophobia). Research has examined both biological and psychosocial correlates or predictors of these traits. There has been less focus on possible processes or mechanisms associated with children’s development of these traits and research that links biological and psychosocial factors. There is an absence of research that links biological and psychosocial factors. In the present article, we outline a model intended to facilitate theory and research on the development of appetitive traits. It is based on scholarship from developmental theory and research and incorporates biological factors such as genetic predispositions and temperament as well as psychosocial factors in terms of parent cognitions, feeding styles and feeding practices. Particular attention is directed to aspects such as emotional eating and feeding, self-regulation of energy intake, and non-shared family environments. We highlight the opportunity for longitudinal research that examines bidirectional, transactional and cascade processes and uses a developmental framework. The model provides a basis for connecting the biological foundations of appetitive traits to system-level analysis in the family. Knowledge generated through the application of the model should lead to more effective prevention and intervention initiatives.
This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).