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USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine



Dr. Jeniffer Orlet FisherJennifer Orlet Fisher, PhD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Baylor College of Medicine

The development of eating behavior in children

My research investigates the extent to which early eating environments influence young children's eating behaviors and health outcomes. The overall goal of this basic behavioral research is to identify modifiable aspects of intake regulation from birth through the preschool years.

I have been particularly interested in the role that parents play in shaping children's eating habits. In the first years of life, caregivers control the quality and quantity of food provided to the infant, as well as the frequency with which it is provided. Our current research is directed towards understanding the effects of maternal feeding practices on the developing controls of food intake in infancy and toddlerhood. We are using observations of feeding to characterize infant hunger and fullness cues as well as maternal responsiveness to those cues. The main goal of that work is to understand the implications of responsive feeding interactions for energy intake and growth among infants and toddlers.

A separate line of research considers the quantity of food provided to young children. Large portions of energy dense foods are thought to characterize obesigenic dietary environments. However, well-controlled studies evaluating effects of food portion size on young children’s intake are lacking. We are using experimental designs to characterize the effects of food portion size on young children’s eating. Environmental influences on young children’s self-served portion sizes are being investigated as part of that work.

Survey Documents

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Representative Publications

Butte, B.F., Cai, G., Cole, S.A., Wilson, T., Fisher, J.O., Zakeri, I., Ellis, K. J., Comuzzie, A.G. (in press). Predictors of weight gain in Hispanic children: VIVA LA FAMILIA study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Fisher, J.O., Butte, N.F., Commuzie, A.C., Cole, S.A., Jaramillo, S.J., Mehta, N.R. (in press). Genetics of hyperphagic eating behavior and appetite-related hormones among Hispanic children. Obesity.

Hughes, S.O., Patrick, H., Power, T.G., Fisher, J.O., Anderson, C.B., Nicklas, T.A.. (in press). The impact of child care providers’ feeding on children’s food consumption. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Baranowski, T., Missaghian, M., Broadfoot, A., Watson, K., Cullen, K., Nicklas, T., Fisher, J.O., Baranowski, J., O'Donnell, S. (2007). Fruit and vegetable shopping practices and social support scales: A validation. Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior. 10, 280–291.

Fisher, J.O. (2007). Age effects on children’s intake of large and self-selected portions. Obesity, 15, 403-412.

Baranowski, T., Watson, K., Missaghian, M., Broadfoot, A., Cullen, K., Nicklas, T., Fisher, J.O, O'Donnell, S. (2006). Adult outcome expectancies for purchasing fruit and vegetables: A validation. Public Health Nutrition. 38, 340-51.

Jaramillo, S. J., Yang, S.J., Hughes, S.O., Fisher, J.O., Morales, M., Nicklas, T.A. (2006). Interactive computerized fruit and vegetable preference measure for African-American and Hispanic preschoolers. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 38, 352-359.

Yoo, S., Missaghian, M., Baranowski, J., Cullen, K., Fisher, J.O., Watson, K., Zakeri, I. F., Nicklas, T. N., Baranowski, T. (2006). Food-purchasing patterns for home: A grocery store intercept survey. Public Health Nutrition, 9, 384–393.

Hughes, S.O., Power, T.G., Fisher, J.O., Mueller T, & Nicklas T. (2005). Revisiting a neglected construct: Parenting styles in a child-feeding context. Appetite, 44, 83-92.

Anderson, C.B., Hughes, S.O., Fisher, J.O., Nicklas, T.A. (2005). Cross-cultural equivalence of feeding beliefs and practices: The psychometric properties of the child feeding questionnaire among Blacks and Hispanics. Preventive Medicine, 41, 521-531.

Anderson CB, Hughes SO, Fisher JO, Nicklas TA. Cross-cultural equivalence of feeding beliefs and practices: the psychometric properties of the child feeding questionnaire among Blacks and Hispanics. Prev Med. 41(2):521-531, 2005.

Fisher JO, Mitchell DC, Smiciklas-Wright H, Mannino ML, Birch LL. Meeting calcium recommendations during middle childhood reflects mother-daughter beverage choices and predicts bone mineral status. Am J Clin Nutr. 79(4):698-70, 2004.

Birch LL, Fisher JO, Davison KK. Learning to overeat: maternal use of restrictive feeding practices promotes girls' eating in the absence of hunger. Am J Clin Nutr. 78(2):215-220, 2003.

Fisher, J. O., Rolls, B. J., & Birch L. L. (2003). Large portion sizes increase children's bite size and intake relative to age-appropriate and self-selected portions. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 77(5):1164-70.

Fisher, J. O., & Birch, L. L. (2002). Eating in the absence of hunger and overweight in girls at 5 and 7 years. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition . 76 , 226-31.

Spruijt-Metz, D., Lindquist, C. H., Birch, L. L., Fisher, J. O., & Goran, M. I. (2002). Relationship between mother's child-feeding practices and child's adiposity. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 75 , 581-586.

Fisher, J. O., Mitchell, D. C., Smiciklas-Wright H., & Birch, L. L.. (2002). Eat as I say and eat as I do: Parental influences on young girls' fruit and vegetable intake. Journal of the American Dietetic Association . 102 , 58-64.

Fisher, J. O., & Birch, L. L. (2001). Early experience with food and eating: Implications for the development of eating problems. In J. K. Thompson & Smolak (Eds.), Body image, eating disorders, and obesity in children and adolescents: Theory, assessment, treatment, and prevention.

Birch, L. L., Fisher, J. O., Castro, C. N., Grimm-Thomas, K., Sawyer, R., & Johnson, S. L. (2001). Confirmatory factor analysis of the child feeding questionnaire: a measure of parental attitudes, beliefs and practices about child feeding and obesity proneness. Appetite . 36 , 201-210.

Fisher, J. O., Mitchell, D. C., Smiciklas-Wright, H., & Birch, L. L. (2000). Maternal milk consumption predicts the trade-off between milk and soft drinks in young girls' diets. Journal of Nutrition . 131 , 246-250.


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