Food-Approach Eating Behaviors and Brain Morphology: The Generation R Study

2 min read
Topic(s): Growth & Development Nutrition Health & Wellness
Dmitrichenko O
Mou Y
Voortman T
White T
Jansen PW

School age is also a critical period of brain growth and development. By 12 years of age, brain and grey matter growth reach final adult size, and the brain tissue undergoes a great increase in pruning of “less utilized” neuronal synapses, which significantly increases brain efficiency. This is critical to the development of executive functions and social and behavioral changes in this life period. This study examined the association of food-approach eating behaviors (enjoyment of food, emotional overeating, and food responsiveness) at ages 4 and 10 years with adolescents’ brain morphology at age 13 (using MRI including assessment of cerebral white, cerebral gray, and subcortical gray matter volumes). The sample included 1,781 adolescents from a large, population-based cohort. The study found that enjoyment of food and food responsiveness at the ages of 4 and 10 were positively associated with cerebral white matter and subcortical gray matter volumes at age 13. Enjoyment of food and food responsiveness at 4 years of age, but not at 10 years, were associated with a larger cerebral gray matter volume at 13 years of age. However, no significant morphologic brain associations were found for emotional overeating or with binge-eating symptoms at 13 years of age. The study supports an association between food-approach eating behaviors, especially enjoyment of food and food responsiveness, and brain morphology in adolescence, adding important knowledge to previous studies primarily conducted in adults and suggesting that the longer-term eating behavior-brain links may be manifest by adolescence. 

Source: Dmitrichenko O, Mou Y, Voortman T, White T and Jansen PW (2022) Food-Approach Eating Behaviors and Brain Morphology: The Generation R Study. Front. Nutr. 9:846148. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.846148