About this Research Topic
Obesity is a well-known and persistent societal health problem that has lasted for several decades. Developing healthy eating habits early in life is one of the major keys in establishing healthy lifestyles and preventing and treating obesity. Despite our current societal efforts to reduce the rate of obesity in children, trends project that more children and adolescents will be affected by obesity than ever previously seen. Encouragingly, scientists and health professionals have identified obesogenic characteristics of adults with obesity and have targeted those characteristics for obesity interventions. However, precursors or obesogenic characteristics of childhood obesity have not been fully identified. Early detection and intervention could be crucial to reduce the prevalence of obesity and to improve the physical and mental health of individuals early in life. Therefore, more proactive approaches are needed. These could include promoting the development of healthy eating habits prior to the onset of adult obesity and identifying children at high risk of developing obesity to allow for early intervention prior to excessive weight gain. Further investigation on behavioral characteristics and neural mechanisms of pediatric obesity is warranted for effective obesity prevention and treatment.
Food decision-making is a complicated process involving an interplay between internal factors (e.g., interoceptive signals of hunger, dietary self-control) and external factors (e.g., family eating practices, food marketing). Healthy food choices are more demanding in children because food taste and preferences are primary determinants, while food healthiness is far less considered. Premature dietary self-control does not work effectively at this developmental period to delay gratification for later health benefits, which results in food choices that satisfy immediate urges to eat energy-dense, highly palatable foods. In addition, appetitive traits reflect comparatively passive food experiences through parental eating behavior and feeding practices from prenatal periods. These challenges raise questions regarding how children learn to integrate all those signals, and how they learn to make healthy eating decisions and eventually build healthy eating habits.
Therefore, this Research Topic aims to display the multifaceted mechanisms underlying the development of eating behavior and food choices from infancy to adolescence. The goal of this Research Topic is to illuminate effective strategies for promoting healthy eating and decreasing obesity in young populations. We welcome submissions of original research from diverse perspectives including behavior, psychophysiology, neuroimaging, or clinical research. Different article types may be submitted depending on the scope and/or research methodology. We welcome research submissions that include, but are not limited to, the following topics:
• What mechanisms underlie the development of unhealthy and healthy dietary patterns?
• What types of interactions between internal and external factors make children more susceptible to food cues and overeating?
• When considering obesity in terms of an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure (e.g., physical activity), what characteristics will identify children at high risk of obesity development?
• Is the development of domain-general capacities (e.g., executive function) linked to the development of domain-specific patterns (e.g., dietary self-control, food choice)?
• Are obesogenic characteristics synchronized in parent-child dyads (i.e., is the risk of obesity development transmitted to next generations)?
• How do social and/or cultural factors (e.g., socioeconomic status, race, and/or ethnicity) contribute to the commonality and specialty in the development of eating behavior and obesity?
Keywords: eating behavior, food choice, food cues, food preferences, dietary self-control, parental influence, pediatric obesity, energy intake, children, adolescents, appetite
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