Associations Between Cool and Hot Executive Functions and Children’s Eating Behavior
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Purpose of review
Studies on obesogenic eating behaviors in young children have mainly focused on the roles of family environment and parental behaviors. However, intrapersonal characteristics, particularly executive functions, have recently gained more attention in the literature. Therefore, herein we review work on children’s executive functions (EFs), particularly the roles of cold and hot executive functions on children’s obesogenic eating behaviors.
Most work examining the associations between EF and obesogenic eating among children has focused on the cool EF, particularly inhibitory control/impulsivity. Findings have consistently showed that deficits in inhibitory control/impulsivity are associated with overeating and food responsiveness. The roles of the other two cool EFs (attention control/shifting and working memory) and hot EF (delay of gratification and affective decision-making) in contributing to child obesogenic eating are less clear. For instance, the association between children’s performance on delay of gratification tasks and obesogenic eating varies depending on whether food or non-food rewards were used; children with poorer delay of gratification in non-food tasks had more obesogenic eating, although children with poorer delay of gratification in food tasks had less obesogenic eating.
Deficits in inhibitory control/impulsivity are associated with more obesogenic eating, suggesting that improving children’s inhibition may reduce overeating and childhood obesity. The roles of other cool and hot components of EFs in contributing to obesogenic eating require further study.
KeywordsExecutive functions Eating Child Hot executive function Cool executive function Obesity
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Cin Cin Tan and Julie C. Lumeng declare they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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