Background: Childhood adversity is linked with unhealthy eating behaviours and obesity, but the mechanisms underlying this association are unclear, specifically the transgenerational behavioural precursors that develop in early childhood. Objective: To determine whether adversity predicts change in obesogenic food consumption through child emotion dysregulation, and whether caregiver emotion dysregulation modifies this association. Methods: Participants included 190 low-income caregiver-child dyads (mean child age = 4.31 years [SD = 0.85]). Cumulative lifetime adversity exposure was assessed via study-created measure. The Difficulties with Emotion Regulation Scale and Emotion Regulation Checklist assessed caregiver and child emotion dysregulation, respectively. Children's obesogenic food consumption was assessed at two time points 6 months apart using a caregiver-report measure: the Children's Eating Habits Questionnaire. Moderated mediation models were tested using autoregressive structural equation modelling. Results: Cumulative lifetime adversity was associated with child emotion dysregulation only when caregiver emotion dysregulation was high. Child emotion dysregulation in turn was associated with greater obesogenic food consumption 6 months later. Conclusions: Among young children with caregivers high in emotion dysregulation, cumulative lifetime adversity was linked to an increase in obesogenic food consumption through child emotion dysregulation.
Huffhines, L., Gusler, S., & Jackson, Y. (2020). Adversity exposure and obesogenic food consumption in young children: The transgenerational role of emotion dysregulation. Pediatric Obesity, 15(11). https://doi.org/10.1111/ijpo.12658