Appetitive and psychological phenotypes of pediatric patients with obesity

Pediatr Obes. 2024 Apr;19(4):e13101. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.13101. Epub 2024 Jan 30.


Background: Obesity is a heterogeneous disease with variable treatment response. Identification of the unique constellation of contributors to obesity may allow for targeted interventions and improved outcomes.

Objective: Identify empirically derived phenotypes of pediatric patients with obesity based on appetitive and psychological correlates of obesity.

Methods: This cross-sectional study included patients aged 5-12 years who were treated in a weight management clinic and completed standard intake questionnaires including Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire (CEBQ), Vanderbilt ADHD Scale and Pediatric Symptom Checklist. Phenotypes were elicited using latent profile analysis of 12 indicators: eight CEBQ subscales, inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, internalizing and externalizing symptoms.

Results: Parents/guardians of 384 patients (mean age 9.8 years, mean BMI 30.3 kg/m2 ) completed the intake questionnaires. A 4-phenotype model best fits the data. Hedonic Impulsive phenotype (42.5%) exhibited high food enjoyment and hyperactivity/impulsivity. Inattentive Impulsive phenotype (27.4%) exhibited overall low food approach and high food avoid behaviours, and highest inattention. Hedonic Emotional phenotype (20.8%) scored the highest on food enjoyment, internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Picky Eating phenotype (9.3%) scored the lowest on food approach, inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, internalizing and externalizing symptoms.

Conclusion: Appetitive traits and psychological symptoms appear to cluster in distinct patterns, giving rise to four unique phenotypic profiles, which, if replicated, may help inform the development of tailored treatment plans.

Keywords: appetitive traits; eating behaviour; obesity; phenotype; psychological.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Food Fussiness*
  • Humans
  • Obesity
  • Pediatric Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Phenotype
  • Surveys and Questionnaires