We are currently recruiting for a study titled “How does our awareness of our bodies affect the way we eat?” The study is being conducted as part of a PhD project at Royal Holloway, University of London. The aim is to explore the relationship between interoception and eating behaviour (for more information about what interoception is, check out the “What is Interoception?” page).

Some previous research has suggested that interoception may affect our eating behaviour, and may even be related to problems with eating, such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. However, it is not clear whether altered interoception creates problems with eating, or whether eating problems lead to altered interoception. In this study, we are planning to explore this by measuring certain aspects of interoception in young children and testing them a few times over several years to see whether this has any impact on eating behaviour.

We are looking for female children aged 9, 10 or 11 to take part in the study who do not have a current eating disorder diagnosis. We also need parents to complete some questionnaires during the study too. Ideally, we would like mothers to take part to complete these questionnaires. However, if for any reason this isn’t possible, any parent or legal guardian is fine.

We would appreciate the participation of you and your child in this study because it will help us to find out more information about how disordered eating behaviour develops. By exploring some of the factors which may contribute to eating disorders, we can hopefully find better ways of preventing them from developing or treating them if they do develop, which could help lots of people.

By taking part, your child will be entered into a prize draw for the chance to win book vouchers! We have one £50 voucher to give away, two £20 vouchers, and ten £10 vouchers.

What will the experiment involve?

Part 1:

In the first part, you and your child will be asked to fill out several questionnaires online. The first questions will be for you to fill out about your child, followed by a few questionnaires about yourself. After this, we would like your child to complete the remaining questionnaires. The questionnaires will cover topics such as the perception of sensations in their body, anxiety, their mood and awareness of their emotions, their attitudes towards food and eating behaviours, self-esteem and perfectionism. This will also ask your child about what stage of puberty they are currently at, and they can indicate this by picking the drawing of a body that looks most like them. This session should take around 40 minutes in total (roughly 10 minutes for you and 30 minutes for your child).

Part 2:

In the second part, your child will be asked to complete several tasks using an iPhone app and via an online questionnaire. These tasks will be related to the perception of their heartbeat and sensations of fullness. Anyone can complete the task about fullness, but you will need access to an iPhone for half an hour to complete the tasks on perceiving your heartbeat.

For more detailed information, please download and read the information sheet above. There is one for you to read, as well as one for your child to read. If you would prefer them emailed to you, please email me at Melissa.Barker.2018@live.rhul.ac.uk. I am also happy to send you copies of the questionnaires your child will be given if you would like to view these first, so please feel free to ask for them.