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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Nov;19(11):2190-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.28. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

Preferences predict food intake from 5 to 11 years, but not in girls with higher weight concerns, dietary restraint, and %body fat.

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  • 1Center for Childhood Obesity Research, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA.


Food preferences (FP) predict food intake in childhood; however, the predictive power of FP may decline among girls as weight concerns (WC) and dietary restraint (DR) increase during preadolescence. To examine longitudinal change in the preference-intake (P-I) relation and assess whether this relation weakens among non-Hispanic white girls (n = 197) with a history of WC and DR from age 5 to 11. Girls' preferences for and intake (kcal) of 10 palatable snack foods were assessed biennially. Height, weight, percent body fat (%BF), WC, and DR were measured. Individual correlation coefficients were calculated per girl to capture within-person P-I correlations at each time of measurement. Overall, FP predicted girls' snack food calorie intakes between 5 and 11 years, but latent profile analysis (LPA) revealed three distinct patterns of change in P-I correlations over time: "strong/stable" P-I correlations were relatively high and became stronger with age; "increasing/later null" P-I correlations were initially weak and became stronger between 5 and 9 years, but dropped to near 0 at 11 years; "initially weak/later strong" P-I correlations were initially null and increased with age. Mixed models revealed that the "increasing/later null" group had greater increases in %BF, and higher WC, DR, and BMI percentiles from 5 to 11 years, compared to the other groups. In summary, FP predicted snack food calorie intake among most girls during childhood, but waned as a predictor of calorie intake at age 11 for a subset of girls with increasing %BF, and higher WC, DR, and BMIs.

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