The ability to identify and label emotions may represent an early-life risk factor that relates to excess weight gain during childhood. The current study investigates the relationships between preschool emotion identification and early adolescent body mass index (BMI), as well as the mediating role of two variables: depressive symptoms and peer relations. In a longitudinal study, preschoolers completed an emotion identification task, and parents completed psychiatric assessments and a peer-relations questionnaire about their child. BMI percentile was measured at later time points in early adolescence. Poor emotion identification during preschool predicted increases in BMI percentile over time, with greater deficits in emotion identification ability relating to steeper increases in BMI percentile across early adolescence. Peer relations in preschool partially mediated the relationship between preschool emotion identification ability and adolescent BMI. This study provides novel information about potential targets for early interventions in the service of obesity prevention.
- Emotion identification
- Peer relations