Doctoral defence in Health Promotion: Sigrún Þorsteinsdóttir
Fussy eating in children with and without neurodevelopmental disorders in two study cohorts: A food based-intervention in a school setting with parent child dyads, and children attending obesity treatment
Sigrún Þorsteinssdóttir defends her PhD thesis in Health Promotion from the Faculty of Health Promotion, Sport and Leisure Studies, University of Iceland.
The oral defence takes place Friday, March 18, at 1 pm in the Aula in the main building of the University of Iceland, as well as in live stream.
- Opponents are Dr Edward Leigh Gibson professor at University of Roehampton in London and Dr Chantal Nederkoorn professor at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
- Main supervisor was Dr Anna Sigríður Ólafsdóttir professor at the University of Iceland, School of Education, and co-supervisor Dr Urður Njarðvík professor at the University of Iceland, School of Health Sciences.
- Expert in the doctoral committee was Dr Ragnar Bjarnason professor at the University of Iceland, School of Health Sciences.
- Dr. Ársæll Arnarsson Head of the Faculty of Health Promotion, Sport and Leisure Studies will conduct the ceremony.
About the project:
Difficult eating behaviours such as fussy eating are consistently found in young children, and those with neurodevelopmental disorders (ND) such as Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and depression. Fussy eating tends to peak in early childhood and then reduce, but less so for children with ND. Studies have also found links to fussy eating and children with obesity. Understanding fussy eating in children with obesity and comorbid disorders is important as acceptance of healthy foods tends to be low. Studies also indicate that increasing acceptance of healthy foods is difficult, especially in children with ND.
Although studies on fussy eating have furthered our knowledge on eating behaviours, it is unfortunate that no inclusive food interventions exist for children with ADHD in addition to ASD and TD children, and none include parents in these settings. There were two overarching study aims: The first aim was to gain deeper insight into eating behaviours such as fussy eating in children with and without ND. The second aim was to investigate the effectiveness of the Taste education intervention in a school setting, in children with and without ND, and their parents. In paper I, a preliminary study on a sample of children with obesity, we found that fussy eating was common, and heightened in children with obesity and anxiety. The results were also in general accordance with taste preferences in children with fussy eating. In paper II which was built on screening data from the study sample in paper III, we analysed associations between parents and their children’s fussy eating, in a cross-sectional sample of children, with and without ND. Overall, children with ND accepted fewer food items and consumed unhealthier foods more frequently than children without ND.
Fussy eating parents had children who accepted fewer food items and consumed unhealthier foods more frequently than children whose parents were not fussy eaters. In paper III, our second study sample, we investigated the effect of Taste Education, a 7-week food-based intervention with children and parents. We found superior results for Intervention compared to waiting, on Food fussiness, with stable effects through six-months follow-up. Results also showed increased odds of accepting vegetables, nuts, and seeds, but no association for fruit. Trends were similar for children regardless of ND-status for both fussy eating, and food acceptance. The Taste Education program provided a simple, non-invasive way to decrease fussy eating and increase food variety in the long-term for children regardless of ND-status. Taken together, these papers provide new insights into fussy eating in Icelandic children with and without ND, and their parents. The results highlight a further need to study fussy eating, especially the relationships between fussy eating in children, their ND-status, and parents.
About the candidate:
Sigrún Þorsteinsdóttir was born in Reykjavik 25th of April 1974. She graduated with a BA-degree in Printmaking in 1998 from the Icelandic University of the Arts and BSc in psychology from the University of Iceland in 2001. Sigrún completed a MA-degree in design for interaction from the University of Westminster in 2003 and a MSc-degree in health psychology from the same university in 2013. She then completed a cand.psych. degree in clinical psychology from the University of Iceland in 2015. Since 2004 Sigrún has been a senior web accessibility consultant for SJÁ independent. Since 2018 she has been studying for her PhD at the University of Iceland along with teaching various courses. Sigrún‘s father is Þorsteinn H. Vilhjálmsson and her late mother was Sólveig S. Finnsdóttir. Sigrún is married to Jóhannes Örn Erlingsson and they have two children, Embla Hlökk 12 years old and Nökkvi Styr 10 years old.
Sigrún Þorsteinssdóttir defends her PhD thesis in Health Promotion from the Faculty of Health Promotion, Sport and Leisure Studies, University of Iceland. The oral defence takes place Friday, March 18, at 1 pm in the Aula in the main building of the University of Iceland, as well as in live stream.