Associations between family eating behaviours and body composition measures in peri-adolescents: Results from a community-based study of school-aged children
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OBJECTIVES: To identify key eating behaviours in children and their parents and to determine the associations between these behaviours and measures of body composition in children. METHODS: Data were collected on a sample of 431 peri-adolescent children (12.4±0.3 years) and their parents from the Niagara Region. Body composition was assessed by trained research assistants. Eating behaviours were assessed using a revised version of the Family Eating and Activity Habits Questionnaire. Principal component analyses were used to identify key eating behaviours among children, mothers and fathers. Linear regression models were used to assess their associations with body mass index (BMI), waist-to-height ratio, waist-to-hip ratio, waist girth, and hip girth measures in children. RESULTS: Emotional/uncontrolled eating and eating by the television in children and their mothers were positively associated with measures of body composition in children. Other eating behaviours that were associated with larger measures of body composition in children included low frequency of eating meals with parents, frequent sweet beverage consumption and snacking and eating "on-the-go" in children, eating "on-the-go" in mothers, and emotional eating and eating by the television/late at night in fathers. CONCLUSIONS: The eating behaviours of children and mothers, and to a lesser degree fathers, are important predictors of children's body composition. Public health interventions designed to help mothers and children reduce the frequency of emotional/uncontrolled eating and eating by the television may be effective means of facilitating positive weight outcomes in children.