Attitudes and problematic eating behaviours in children : how and why do they develop ? - Pediatric Research Foundation
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The main objectives of the study

The objective of this project is to better understand the factors related to problematic eating attitudes and behaviours (PABA) and to guide programs promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing eating disorders.

This will be done by establishing a portrait of the proportion of children in Quebec with ECPD as well as studying the factors associated with the development of ECPD.

There is no large-scale study with enough participants to follow children over a long period of time in order to identify and understand the psychosocial factors associated with the development of ECPD.

The issues

  • These disorders can be found in children as young as 9 to 12 years old at different intensities 30% – 80% of children aged 7 to 13 years old have ACAP – 50% of primary school children are concerned about their weight
  • The desire to lose weight appears as early as the age of 9 in girls.
  • These problematic eating attitudes and behaviours (PABA) are found in people suffering from anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
  • 3% of girls aged 15 to 25 years old suffer from eating disorders.
  • 21% suffer from chronic disorders
  • The proportion of adolescents with PCAA has been increasing over the past 20 years.
  • The rate of hospitalizations caused by these disorders increased by 42% between 2006 and 2013 in Canada, resulting in a societal cost of $54,932.

The consequences

  • Depressed mood, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty in peer relationships
  • Increased likelihood of exhibiting suicidal behaviours and drug use (the suicide rate associated with anorexia is the highest among psychiatric illnesses)
  • 5% of people with anorexia die from it (Coumau, 2017).

The impact of advances

  • Representative data for the province (never done to date), which will be disseminated within Quebec government ministries and in scientific journals.
  • Programs offered by teams of physicians and adapted with the results of the study
  • Orienting preventive approaches for eating disorders
  • Organizing conferences/forums with collaborators and students to share results
  • Preventing eating disorders is essential, considering the multiple effects of mental health problems on the functioning of the individual and his family, but also considering the social costs associated with these problems.


Principal researcher

  • Isabelle Thibault, researcher and professor at the CHUS Research Center


  • Center Hospitalier de l'Université de Sherbrooke : pediatricians Dr. Caroline Pesant and Dr. Marie-Claude Roy
  • Université Laval : Catherine Bégin (psychology)
  • University of Montreal : Professor Dominique Meilleur (psychology
  • University of Sherbrooke : Anne-Marie Tougas and Catherine Laurier (psychoeducation)
  • University of Trois-Rivières : Marie-Pierre Gagnon Girouard (psychology) and IMAJ

Research Center

Funded year


Project category

  • Neurodevelopment and mental health