Fat tissue accretion in children and adolescents: Interplay between food responsiveness, gender, and the home availability of snacks.


The appetitive trait ‘food responsiveness’ is assumed to be a risk factor for adiposity gain primarily in obesogenic environments. So far, the reported results are inconsistent in school-aged children, possibly because these studies did not take into account important moderators such as gender and the food-environment. In order to better inform caregivers, clinicians and the developers of targeted obesity-prevention interventions on the conditions in which food responsiveness precedes adiposity gain, the current study investigated if this relationship is stronger in girls and in children exposed to a higher home availability of energy-dense snacks. Age- and sex-independent Fat and Lean Mass Index z-scores were computed based on air-displacement plethysmography at baseline and after 2 years in a community sample of 129 children (48.8% boys) aged 7.5-14 years at baseline. Parents reported at baseline on children’s food responsiveness and the home availability of energy-dense snacks. Food responsiveness was a significant predictor of increases in Fat Mass Index z-scores over 2 years in girls but not boys. The home availability of energy-dense snacks did not significantly moderate the relation of food responsiveness with Fat Mass Index z-score changes. The results suggest that food responsiveness precedes accelerated fat tissue accretion in girls, and may inform targeted obesity-prevention interventions. Further, future research should investigate to which food-environmental parameters children high in food responsiveness mainly respond.