Temperament as Risk and Protective Factors in Obesogenic Eating: Relations Among Parent Temperament, Child Temperament, and Child Food Preference and Eating

Zhiqing Zhou, Michelle SooHoo, Qing Zhou, Marisol Perez La Mar, Jeffrey Liew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Children’s food preferences and eating behaviors have implications for their health and weight status, serving as risk or protective factors for obesity. Although parent and child factors influence children’s eating, few studies have examined parent and child temperament simultaneously in relation to child food preference and eating behaviors. The authors addressed this research gap. Participants were 115 ethnically diverse children between 4 and 6 years old and their parents. Measures included parental temperament traits, parental anxiety, child temperament traits, and child food preference and eating behaviors observed using a laboratory procedure. Results show that children preferred candies over grapes, and that aspects of both child and adult temperament were related to child eating behaviors. Child surgency was linked to eating more candies, while child effortful control was linked to eating more grapes. Parent effortful control was related to children’s preference toward grapes. No relations were found between child eating behaviors and child or parent negative affectivity and parental anxiety. Overall, findings suggest that highly impulsive and poorly self-regulated children may be at risk for obesogenic eating habits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Genetic Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019



  • eating behavior
  • food preference
  • self-control
  • self-regulation
  • temperament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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