Eating Behaviours and Childhood Obesity

Andreia Oliveira


Integrated Member (PhD)
This laboratory has been exploring how perinatal and postnatal exposures influence the development of children’s eating habits and behaviours, and how these may influence growth and adiposity accumulation across the life span. 

Different methodological approaches have been explored to study dietary exposures and childhood obesity, and recently, the study of the role of appetite-related eating behaviours as mediators for excessive adiposity gain and cardiometabolic changes across the life course (from birth to childhood and adolescence) has been initiated, yielding evidence supporting possible gene-environment interactions that increase the risk of obesity from early ages. 

The interaction between genes and environmental factors (epigenetic mechanisms) is believed to be the mechanistic way to explain the obesity pandemic, which we currently face as a major Public Health challenge.

The main scientific goals of this laboratory are:

  • To study the early development of eating behaviours: how they are established and how the intrauterine environment and other early life characteristics may determine them;
  • To assess the development and tracking of eating behaviours (appetite-related eating behaviours, dietary patterns and eating disorders) throughout childhood, and to assess their long-term effects on adiposity and metabolic health (cumulative risk) later in life;
  • To assess the role of environmental factors (e.g. social adversity, peer pressure and bullying) in the establishment of eating disorders in adolescence;
  • To explore the influence of genetic and environmental factors on the variability of eating behaviours and explore gene-environment interactions related to weight gain.


The knowledge generated will help to better inform the development of more effective evidence-based Public Health strategies with an emphasis on promoting healthy eating behaviours at different developmental periods of life in order to prevent/decrease obesity, improve health, and mitigate the development of a range of adverse health outcomes in future generations. 

The results of the developed research aim to assist children and adolescents, as well as their caregivers/family members, in the complex process of self-regulation of food intake. 

Research Lab Team



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