Eating in the absence of hunger in 18-month-old children in a home setting

Janneke M. Schultink*, Jeanne H.M. de Vries, Victoire W.T. de Wild, Merel S. van Vliet, Shelley M.C. van der Veek, Vanessa E.G. Martens, Cees de Graaf, Gerry Jager

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Eating in the absence of hunger (EAH), the susceptibility to eat despite satiety, may increase overweight. While EAH has been established in school-aged children, less is known about it during toddlerhood. Objectives: This study assessed to what extent 18-month-old children eat in the absence of hunger, the stability of this behaviour at 24 months and the association of child eating behaviours with EAH. Methods: Children were presented with four palatable finger foods (total 275 kcal) after dinner. Univariate GLM's assessed the association between EAH, child satiety and eating behaviours and energy intake of dinner at 18 and 24 months (n = 206 and 103, respectively). Another GLM was run to assess the association between EAH at both time points. Results: Mean (±SD) energy intakes from dinner and finger foods were 240 kcal (±117) and 40 kcal (±37), respectively. No association was found between energy intake of dinner and finger foods. Enjoyment of food was significantly related to intake of finger foods (P =.005). EAH at 18 months predicted EAH at 24 months. Conclusion: Eighteen-month-old children ate in the absence of hunger, irrespective of satiety. Thus, preceding energy intake was not compensated for. Other factors, for example, enjoyment of food seem to determine finger food intake.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPediatric Obesity
Issue number11
Early online date12 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • child eating behaviour
  • eating in the absence of hunger
  • satiety
  • self-regulation of energy intake
  • toddler


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