Problematic eating attitudes and behaviours - Pediatric Research Foundation
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Problematic eating attitudes and behaviours in children: how and why do they develop?

While problematic eating attitudes and behaviours can surface during childhood and have extremely harmful effects over the long term, there have been no large-scale trials with enough participants to monitor children over a long period of time in order to identify and understand the psychosocial factors associated with the development of problematic eating attitudes and behaviours. The purpose of this research project is to monitor a large sample of children to find the differentiation factors of children with or without problematic eating attitudes and behaviours. This study will be conducted in primary and secondary schools in various regions of Quebec (Estrie, Montréal, Québec, Outaouais, Centre-du-Québec, Saguenay, Gaspésie). It will target children in grades 5 and 6 (primary) and secondary one (first year of high school), as well as their parents. The study will involve completing a questionnaire or series of questionnaires or participating in interviews, depending on the group of children. All participants will follow the same protocol in the second year of the study.


To date, 388 children and their parents have completed the screening for the study on problematic eating attitudes and behaviours designed by Professor Isabelle Thibault of the CHU Sherbrooke. Preliminary analyses show that 13.5% of children in grades 5 and 6 have severe to moderate problematic eating attitudes and behaviours.

The study will also lead to better preventive approaches for eating disorders, since problematic eating attitudes and behaviours are a precursor for these specific issues. One example would be running school programs based on the study results (e.g., activities around intuitive eating). Knowing the factors associated with eating disorders will make it easier to prevent them and have a positive effect on the daily lives of the individuals and their families, as well as on the social costs associated with these problems.

Leverage effect

Funding from the Foundation of Stars has a significant leverage effect, as it allows the study to transition from the local to the provincial level. In fall 2022, data collection will be expanded to other administrative regions (Montréal, Montérégie, etc.). Given the reality of traditional granting agencies, this study could not have been planned in the short term. Not only will the support from the Foundation of Stars make possible a research project that is ambitious and innovative from a scientific viewpoint, but it will also have a direct and positive impact on practitioners and future funding for the study.


Principal researcher

  • Professor Isabelle Thibault, PhD in Clinical Sciences, Professor at the Faculty of Education and Psychoeducation, Université de Sherbrooke Research Centre


  • CHU Sherbrooke: Pediatricians Dr. Caroline Pesant and Dr. Marie-Claude Roy
  • IMAJ A group of Québec researchers conducting studies on eating disorders, with other partnerships planned with stakeholders from different regions, among them researchers from the Douglas Institute.
  • Université de Montréal: Professor Dominique Meilleur (psychology)
  • Université de Sherbrooke: Anne-Marie Tougas and Catherine Laurier (psychoeducation)
  • Université de Trois-Rivières: Marie-Pierre Gagnon Girouard (psychology)
  • Université Laval: Catherine Bégin (psychology)

Research Center

  • CHU Sherbrooke Research Centre
  • FMSS School of Nursing, Associate at GRIS

Funded year


Project category

  • Metabolic and cardiovascular health
  • Neurodevelopment and mental health