Emotion Awareness Predicts Body Mass Index Percentile Trajectories in Youth

Diana J. Whalen, Andy C. Belden, Deanna Barch, Joan Luby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective To examine the rate of change in body mass index (BMI) percentile across 3 years in relation to emotion identification ability and brain-based reactivity in emotional processing regions. Study design A longitudinal sample of 202 youths completed 3 functional magnetic resonance imaging–based facial processing tasks and behavioral emotion differentiation tasks. We examined the rate of change in the youth's BMI percentile as a function of reactivity in emotional processing brain regions and behavioral emotion identification tasks using multilevel modeling. Results Lower correct identification of both happiness and sadness measured behaviorally predicted increases in BMI percentile across development, whereas higher correct identification of both happiness and sadness predicted decreases in BMI percentile, while controlling for children's pubertal status, sex, ethnicity, IQ score, exposure to antipsychotic medication, family income-to-needs ratio, and externalizing, internalizing, and depressive symptoms. Greater neural activation in emotional reactivity regions to sad faces also predicted increases in BMI percentile during development, also controlling for the aforementioned covariates. Conclusion Our findings provide longitudinal developmental data demonstrating links between both emotion identification ability and greater neural reactivity in emotional processing regions with trajectories of BMI percentiles across childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-828.e4
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Volume167
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

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