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Associations Between Temperament at Age 1.5 Years and Obesogenic Diet at Ages 3 and 7 Years

Vollrath, Margarete E. PhD*,†; Stene-Larsen, Kim PhD*; Tonstad, Serena MD, PhD‡,§; Rothbart, Mary K. PhD; Hampson, Sarah E. PhD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: November/December 2012 - Volume 33 - Issue 9 - p 721–727
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e31826bac0d
Original Article
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Objective: To investigate whether temperament in 1.5 year olds predicts their consumption of potentially obesogenic foods and drinks at 3 and 7 years of age.

Methods: Participants were 6997 mothers and infants from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Questionnaires were collected during pregnancy, at birth, and at 6 months and 1.5, 3, and 7 years of age. Predictor variables included children's temperament at 1.5 years of age (internalizing, externalizing, surgent) and mothers' negative affectivity. Outcome variables included children's consumption of sweet foods, sweet drinks, and fruits/vegetables at 3 and 7 years of age (dichotomized at the 85th percentile).

Results: Controlling for covariates, internalizing 1.5 year olds (anxious, dependent) were 77% and 63% more likely to consume sweet drinks daily at 3 and 7 years of age, respectively; they were 55% and 43% more likely to consume sweet foods daily at 3 and 7 years, respectively. Externalizing 1.5 year olds (hyperactive, aggressive) were 34% more likely to consume sweet drinks daily at 7 years of age; they were 39% and 44% more likely to consume sweet foods daily at 3 and 7 years, respectively, and they were 47% and 33% less likely to consume fruits/vegetables daily at 3 and 7 years of age, respectively. Surgent 1.5 year olds (active, sociable) were 197% and 78% more likely to consume 2 portions of fruits/vegetables daily at 3 and 7 years, respectively. The association of maternal negative affectivity was limited to the child's consumption of sweet foods at 3 and 7 years.

Conclusion: Early child temperament is a risk factor for obesogenic diet in later childhood. Mechanisms explaining this association need to be explored.

*Department of Psychosomatics and Health Behavior, Division of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway

Psychological Institute, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Ullevål Department of Preventive Cardiology, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

§School of Public Health, Department of Health Promotion and Education, Loma Linda University, CA

Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Oregon Research Institute, Eugene, OR.

Address for reprints: Margarete E. Vollrath, PhD, Department of Psychosomatics and Health Behavior, Division of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, POB 4404 Nydalen, 0403 Oslo, Norway; e-mail: margarete.vollrath@fhi.no.

The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study was supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Health, by the NIH/NIEHS (grant no. N01-ES-85433), NIH/NINDS (grant no.1 UO1 NS 047537-01), and the Norwegian Research Council/FUGE (grant no. 151918/S10). S. E. Hampson's contribution was supported in part by the National Institute on Aging of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (grant no. AG20048).

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Received May , 2012

Accepted July , 2012

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.