To investigate whether temperament in 1.5-year-olds predicts their consumption of potentially obesogenic foods and drinks at ages 3 and 7 years.
Participants were 6 997 mothers and infants from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Questionnaires were collected during pregnancy, at birth, and at child ages 6 months and 1.5, 3, and 7 years. Predictor variables: children’s temperament at age 1.5 (internalizing, externalizing, surgent) and mothers’ negative affectivity. Outcome variables: children’s consumption of sweet foods, sweet drinks, and fruits/vegetables at ages 3 and 7 (dichotomized at the 85th percentile).
Controlling for covariates, internalizing 1.5-year-olds (anxious, dependent) were 77% and 63% more likely to consume sweet drinks daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively; they were 55% and 43% more likely to consume sweet foods daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively. Externalizing 1.5-year-olds (hyperactive, aggressive) were 34% more likely to consume sweet drinks daily at age 7, 39% and 44% more likely to consume sweet foods daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively, and they were 47% and 33% less likely to consume fruits/vegetables daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively. Surgent 1.5-year-olds (active, sociable) were 197% and 78% more likely to consume two portions of fruits/vegetables daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively. The association of maternal negative affectivity was limited to the child’s consumption of sweet foods at 3 and 7 years.
Early child temperament is a risk factor for obesogenic diet in later childhood. Mechanisms explaining this association need to be explored.