Background: Conditioned eating in response to external food cues may contribute to obesity risk in young children. Objectives: To develop a brief, parent-reported scale to measure external food cue responsiveness for preschool-age children. Methods: Focus groups with parents of preschool-age children were conducted to create an initial pool of items reflecting children's behavioral responses to external food cues. Items were included in a nationally-distributed online survey of parents of preschool-age children (n = 456). Factor analysis was used to reduce the initial item pool, the scale's psychometric properties were assessed, and scores were correlated with reported snacking behaviors. Results: Nine items met inclusion criteria in the final scale, which had high internal consistency (alpha = 0.86). Final scores were the mean across the nine items. External food cue responsiveness was greater among children with, versus without, usual TV advertisement exposure. Furthermore, greater external food cue responsiveness mediated the relationship between children's usual TV advertisement exposure and snacking during TV viewing. Findings remained statistically significant when adjusted for food responsiveness as measured with the Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire. Conclusions: Findings provide preliminary evidence that external food cue responsiveness is measurable by parental report in preschool-age children.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nutrition and Dietetics