Eating Behavior in Children

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00320177
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : May 3, 2006
Last Update Posted : February 15, 2019
Information provided by:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)

Brief Summary:

This study will explore the eating habits of children and determine if eating behavior is linked to genetics.

Children between 8 and 17 years of age may be eligible for this study. It will include children who have experienced loss of control over eating, children who report overeating without loss of control, and children who report experiencing neither of the above. Candidates will be screened with the following:

  • Medical history and brief physical examination, including height, weight, and body fat measurements. Body fat is measured using a device called a Bod Pod. The child sits inside the device for about 5 minutes and the machine determines body fat by measuring air movement. The child must wear a tight-fitting swimsuit for this test.
  • Urine test to look for sugar or protein in the urine and to test for pregnancy in females.
  • Blood tests for routine chemistries and for gene studies related to eating behaviors.
  • Questionnaires and interviews about the child's general health and eating habits.
  • Acclimatization to test meal conditions for the study. The child is given a yogurt shake to drink and fills out rating scales before and after the drink.

Participants will come to the Clinical Center two times at 8:30 a.m. for laboratory meal testing. At each visit, the child will do the following:

  • In the morning, eat a breakfast of apple juice and a buttered English muffin.
  • Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., pursue activities at the Clinical Center recreation facility or the NIH classroom, but may not eat or drink anything that contains calories.
  • At 2 p.m., fill out rating scales about his or her hunger level.
  • At 2:30 p.m., eat from a food buffet that will be made available.
  • After eating, repeat rating scales about hunger level.

The procedure for both visits will be the same, except at one visit the child will be instructed to eat as much as you would eat at a normal meal, and at the other visit, the instruction will be to let yourself go and eat as much as you want.

Condition or disease
Eating Behaviors

Detailed Description:
Little is known about the eating habits of children under laboratory conditions. In this exploratory study, we aim to examine the relationships between measured food intake during meals, binge eating behaviors as assessed by interview, and polymorphisms in genes believed to be involved in the regulation of energy intake. We will study children who report they have experienced loss of control over eating, children who report overeating without loss of control, and children who report neither of these episodes, and assess the impact of two different meal instructions on their eating behavior. We will ask children to eat a meal in the laboratory setting on two occasions. The only difference between the two meals will be a pre-meal instruction: Participants will be asked either to eat 'normally' (the 'normal meal' instruction) or to 'let yourself go' (the 'binge meal' instruction). Participants will be assessed for affective state; degree of hunger, fullness, and desire to binge; presence of overeating or loss of control; eating attitudes and dieting; and general school and social adjustment. Participants' DNA will be sequenced to seek polymorphisms in genes relevant for appetite, such as the leptin and melanocortin 4 receptor genes, to examine whether genetic variation in the leptin signaling pathway can account for variation in reported or actual eating behaviors. Samples will also be obtained for hormones believed to be relevant for food intake. By accurately describing eating behavior in children in relation to their age, weight, history of dieting and/or overeating behavior, and genetic variation, we can refine current theoretical models of disordered eating.

Study Type : Observational
Actual Enrollment : 263 participants
Official Title: Eating Behavior in Children
Study Start Date : November 26, 2003
Study Completion Date : October 28, 2014

Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   8 Years to 17 Years   (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No
  • Good general health.
  • Age greater than 7 and less than 18 years.
  • Participants must have negative urine glucose and normal electrolytes, hepatic, and thyroid function or they will be referred for treatment.


  • Any major medical problem likely to affect caloric intake (e.g., significant cardiac or pulmonary disease likely to result in hypoxia or decreased perfusion).
  • History of an eating disorder, other than binge eating disorder, or a current psychiatric disorder. Identification of any such illness will lead to immediate referral to a mental health professional.
  • Recent weight change of greater than 5 lbs. within the previous three (3) months.
  • Pregnancy. If a potential participant is found to be pregnant, we will inform the child, as an 'emancipated minor,' and let her inform her parent(s).
  • Individuals who have, or whose parent or guardians have, current substance abuse or a diagnosed psychiatric disorder or other condition that, in the opinion of the investigators, would impede competence or compliance or possibly hinder completion of the study.
  • Participants currently prescribed SSRI's neuroleptics, tricyclics, stimulants, or any medication likely to affect caloric intake. Recent use (with six months) of weight loss medications.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT00320177

United States, Maryland
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Sponsors and Collaborators
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Principal Investigator: Jack A Yanovski, M.D. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

Publications automatically indexed to this study by Identifier (NCT Number): Identifier: NCT00320177     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 040050
First Posted: May 3, 2006    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: February 15, 2019
Last Verified: October 28, 2014

Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
Binge Eating
Food Intake
Melanocortin-4 Receptor Gene
Macronutrient Composition