Children have not been immune to the rise in obesity across the nation. Overall eating habits, frequency of consuming fast food, larger portion sizes and genetics all play a part in this trend.
Researchers wanted to explore how portion size and parental beliefs were related to childhood obesity. They recruited parent-child dyads and had them separately estimate the child’s “ideal” portion as well as the “maximum tolerated” portion for a range of main meals. The children ranged from 5-11 years of age.
They found that the children’s estimated portions had no correlation to their actual BMI. However, the parents’ beliefs about their child’s portion sizes were related to the child’s BMI. Interesting to note: for children with higher BMI ratings, the parents’ estimated portions were more similar to the child’s estimation.
They suggest that giving parents adequate instructions on portion sizes for young children might be an important step in reducing childhood obesity rates. Researchers theorize “when a parent selects a smaller portion for their child than their child self-selects, then the child is less likely to be obese.”
Children often want to mimic the adults in their lives and this can carry over into eating habits – both in what and how much to eat. A 5-year old may not have the mature thought process to understand why his portion of food is smaller than his parent’s portion. Even as children grow and begin to serve themselves, they still may need guidance for how much of a given food to put on their plate.
This study showed even at age 11, children still overestimated their portion sizes. This is where parents need to be aware of what the child’s actual needs are and encourage healthy eating habits. Allowing children to help select foods from an approved list and having them help to prepare them may lead some to be more willing to try new foods.
Help your child learn to “fill up” on healthy foods like fresh green vegetables rather than fast food such as sugary or fried foods, and remember your eyes may be bigger than their stomach. Talk to your chiropractor for tips on developing a healthy, balanced diet for your family.
SOURCE: Parental beliefs about portion size, not children’s own beliefs, predict child BMI. By Potter C, Ferriday D, Griggs RL, Hamilton-Shield JP, Rogers PJ, Brunstrom JM. Apr 4, 2017. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28374550 © 2017 The Authors. Pediatric Obesity published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of World Obesity Federation.