Associations between preschool children’s temperament and vegetable and sugar-rich food intake


  • R. Kaukonen
  • E. Lehto
  • R. Lehto
  • C. Ray
  • H. Vepsäläinen
  • S. Hampf
  • L. Koivusilta
  • E. Roos
  • N. Sajaniemi
  • M. Erkkola


Background: Research has suggested that certain temperament traits might predispose to increased weight already in childhood. Associations between children’s temperament and food intake are less studied. The purpose of this study is to examine the association between temperament and vegetable and sugar-rich food intake among 3-6 year old children. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among Finnish preschoolers (n=864) between autumn 2015 and spring 2016. One caregiver of the participating child reported their child’s temperament (n=751) and food intake (n=820) by completing the very short form of Children’s Behavior Questionnaire (CBQ-VSF) and a food frequency questionnaire. Linear regression analysis (n=679) was used to examine the associations of three temperament traits: negative affectivity, effortful control and surgency (sum variables based on CBQ-VSF) with vegetable (fresh and cooked) and sugar-rich food (including e.g. sweets, sweet pastries, sugared cereals and yoghurts) intake adjusted for parental educational level, child’s age, gender, and birth order. Findings: A positive association between children’s effortful control and vegetable intake (beta 0.09 (0.01-0.09) and inverse association between negative affectivity and vegetable intake (beta -.09 (-.07 - -.00) were found. No associations were found between surgency and vegetable intake or any of the three temperament traits and sugar-rich food intake. Discussion: A few associations were found between temperament and vegetable intake among preschoolers. The mechanisms of the associations should be examined in further studies. A third factor such as parenting practices or children’s eating behaviors could operate between temperament and food intake explaining these associations.





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