Social context, specifically within the family, influences adolescent eating behaviours and thus their health. Little is known about the specific mechanisms underlying the effects of parental feeding practices on eating. We explored relationships between parental feeding practices and adolescent eating habits and brain activity in response to viewing food images. Fifty- seven adolescents (15 with type 2 diabetes mellitus, 21 obese and 21 healthy weight controls) underwent fMRI scanning whilst viewing images of food or matched control images. Participants completed the Kids Child Feeding Questionnaire, the Childrens’ Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (DEBQ) and took part in an observed meal. Parents completed the Comprehensive Feeding Practices Questionniare and the DEBQ. We were particularly interested in brain activity in response to food cues that was modulated by different feeding and eating styles. Healthy-weight participants increased activation (compared to the other groups) to food in proportion to the level of parental restriction in visual areas of the brain such as right lateral occipital cortex (LOC), right temporal occipital cortex, left occipital fusiform gyrus, left lateral and superior LOC. Adolescents with type 2 diabetes mellitus had higher activation (compared to the other groups) with increased parental restrictive feeding in areas relating to emotional control, attention and decision-making, such as posterior cingulate, precuneus, frontal operculum and right middle frontal gyrus. Participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus also showed higher activation (compared to the other groups) in the left anterior intraparietal sulcus and angular gyrus when they also reported higher self restraint. Parental restriction did not modulate food responses in obese participants, but there was increased activity in visual (visual cortex, left LOC, left occipital fusiform gyrus) and reward related brain areas (thalamus and parietal operculum) in response to parental teaching and modelling of behaviour. Parental restrictive feeding and parental teaching and modelling affected neural responses to food cues in different ways, depending on motivations and diagnoses, illustrating a social influence on neural responses to food cues.
Allen, H. A., Chambers, A. L., Blissett, J., Chechlacz, M., Barrett, T., Higgs, S., & Nouwen, A. (2016). Relationship between parental feeding practices and neural responses to food cues in adolescents. PLoS ONE, 11(8), 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0157037