REFERENCE: Stark, L. J., Mulvihill, M. M., Jelalian, E., Bowen, A. M., Powers, S. W., Tao, S., Creveling, S., Passero, M. A., Harwood, I., Light., M., Lapey., A., Hovell, M. F. (1997). Descriptive analysis of eating behavior in school-age children with cystic fibrosis and healthy control children. Pediatrics, 99, 665-671.

Study Objective. To investigate calorie intake, behavioral eating styles, and parent perception of eating behavior of school-age children with cystic fibrosis (CF) compared with healthy peers.

Design. A two-group comparison study.

Setting. A clinical sample of 28 school-age children with CF and a community sample of 28 healthy peers matched for age (6 to 12 years) and socioeconomic status.

Measurements and Main Results. The children with CF consumed more calories per day (2175 cal/d) than the control children (1875 cal/d) and achieved a significantly higher recommended daily allowance (RDA) of energy (128% of the RDA) than the control children (91.61% of the RDA). Fifty-four percent of the CF sample were achieving the CF dietary recommendations of 120% of the RDA. Despite this energy intake, the CF sample was significantly below the control sample on weight (24.56 vs 31.23 kg), height (125.48 vs 133.06 cm), and z score for weight (-0.811 vs 0.528) and height (-0.797 vs 0.371). On measures of behavioral eating style, the CF sample had significantly longer meals (23.90 min) than the control sample (17.34 min) and had a significantly slower pace of eating (43.27% 10-second intervals with bites) than the control sample (51.29% 10-second intervals with bites) but did not differ significantly on the number of calories consumed during dinner. On a measure of parent report of mealtime behaviors, parents of the children with CF rated mealtime behavior problems of "dawdles" and "refuses food" as more intense (mean, 3.46) than did the parents of control children (mean, 2.67). For the CF sample, a significant correlation was found between the parent intensity ratings of problem behavior in general and meal duration (r = .48), and a significant negative correlation was found between the parent intensity ratings of problem mealtime behaviors and the percentage of intervals with bites (pace of meal) (r = -.533).

Conclusions. Although the school-age children with CF were consuming more calories per day than their healthy peers, and more than 50% of the children in the CF sample were at or above the CF dietary recommendations, the children in the CF sample were significantly below the control children on measures of weight and height. The behavioral data suggest that increased caloric intake is not without cost, because the CF sample spent an additional 7 minutes per day at dinner and ate their meals at a slower pace than their healthy peers. These data were associated with higher intensity ratings of mealtime behaviors by parents of children with CF. These findings point to the need for individualized assessment of energy needs for school-age children with CF and comprehensive programs that teach parents behavioral strategies to motivate their children to meet these higher energy requirements in an adaptive manner.


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