Emotion-driven impulsiveness and snack food consumption of European adolescents: Results from the I.Family study

Appetite. 2018 Apr 1;123:152-159. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.12.018. Epub 2017 Dec 19.


We aimed to investigate the association between emotion-driven impulsiveness and snack food consumption in 1039 European adolescents aged 12-18 years. During the cross-sectional examination in 2013/2014, complete information was collected on: emotion-driven impulsiveness (using the negative urgency subscale from the Urgency, Premeditation, Perseverance, Sensation seeking, and Positive urgency (UPPS-P) Impulsive Behaviour Scale) and snacking behaviour operationalised as 1) consumption frequency of daily snacks, 2) consumption frequency of energy-dense snacks (both measured using Food Frequency Questionnaire) and 3) usual energy intake of food consumed per snacking occasion in calories. The latter was measured using online self-administered 24-h dietary recalls and was estimated based on the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Method. Anthropometric variables were measured and BMI z-score (zBMI) calculated. Age, sex, highest education level of the family and country of residence were assessed using a questionnaire. Mixed-effect regression analyses were separately conducted for each snacking behaviour outcome with emotion-driven impulsiveness as the exposure. After controlling for zBMI, age, sex, country and socioeconomic status, emotion-driven impulsiveness was positively associated with daily consumption frequency of snacks (β = 0.07, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) [0.02, 0.12]) and consumption frequency of energy-dense snacks (β = 0.25, 95% CI [0.19, 0.31]), but not with usual energy intake of food per snacking (β = 2.52, 95% CI [-0.55, 5.59]). Adolescents with a stronger emotion-driven impulsiveness tendency reported a higher snacking frequency and specifically more energy-dense snacks, whereas the energy intake of snack food seemed less important. These findings have implications for obesity prevention and treatment as they indicate the importance of targeting emotion-driven impulsiveness as a strategy to avoid excessive snacking.

Keywords: Body mass index; Children; Energy-dense snacks; Europe; Negative urgency; Snacking frequency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / psychology*
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Snacks / psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Whites / psychology*