Children and eating. Personality and gender are associated with obesogenic food consumption and overweight in 6- to 12-year-olds

Appetite. 2012 Jun;58(3):1113-7. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.02.056. Epub 2012 Mar 15.


The role of children's personality traits in the consumption of potentially obesogenic foods was investigated in a sample of Norwegian children aged 6-12 years (N=327, 170 boys, 157 girls). Mothers rated their child's personality on the traits of the Five Factor Model (i.e., extraversion, benevolence, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and imagination). Mothers also completed a food frequency questionnaire assessing their child's consumption of sweet drinks, sweet foods, and fruit and vegetables, and reported their child's height and weight. Controlling for age and mothers' education, boys and girls who were less benevolent consumed more sweet drinks, and girls who were less conscientious and more neurotic consumed more sweet drinks. Boys and girls who were more benevolent and imaginative consumed more fruits and vegetables, and boys who were more extraverted, more conscientious, and less neurotic consumed more fruits and vegetables. Controlling for maternal education, boys and girls who were less extraverted, and girls who were less benevolent, less conscientious, and more neurotic were more likely to be overweight or obese. These findings suggest that children's personality traits play an important yet understudied role in their diet. Further investigation of mechanisms that relate child traits to obesogenic eating and overweight would be valuable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Beneficence
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Educational Status
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Norway
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Personality*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Dietary Sucrose