Emotional Over- and Undereating in Children: A Longitudinal Analysis of Child and Contextual Predictors

Child Dev. 2019 Nov;90(6):e803-e818. doi: 10.1111/cdev.13110. Epub 2018 Jun 29.


Eating more or eating less in response to negative emotions, called emotional over- and undereating, is common in children, but research on the etiology of these behaviors is in its infancy. Drawing on a large, representative community sample of Norwegian children followed up on a biennial basis from 6 to 10 years of age (analysis sample: n = 802), child and contextual predictors (i.e., child temperament, depression symptoms, serious life events, family functioning, parental sensitivity and structuring) of change in emotional over- and undereating were examined. Results revealed that low (temperamental) soothability and less parental structuring at age 6 predicted increased emotional overeating at age 10 and that lower family functioning at age 6 predicted more emotional undereating during the same period.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences / statistics & numerical data*
  • Affective Symptoms / epidemiology*
  • Affective Symptoms / etiology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Parenting*
  • Temperament*