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Methodology to Measure Infant Food Reinforcements

Eiden | Kong

Obesity in infancy predicts the risk of obesity in later life. The reinforcing value of food is reliably measured in children, adolescents and adults. Using a behavioral economics approach, we have developed a unique relative reinforcing value of food paradigm to extend this area of research to measure infants’ motivation to ear versus engage in other behaviors. Measuring the motivation to eat in infancy allows researchers to study the origin of food reinforcement and can provide important steps in obesity prevention. This study will examine the test-retest reliability of the infant food reinforcement paradigm and examine how current and past eating behaviors relate to the relative reinforcing value of food in 9- to 18-month-old infants.

The co-principal investigators are Rina Das Eiden, PhD, of RIA, and Kai Ling Kong, PhD, postdoctoral associate in the UB Department of Pediatrics, with Leonard Epstein, PhD, of the Dept. of Pediatrics as co-investigator. Funded by RIA’s Howard T. Blane Director’s Award for Development of Innovative Research in the Addictions (BDAA), 2015-16.