To parents, it’s never a bad idea to keep an eye on what your kids are eating, especially these days when unhealthy food options are cropping up in the market. But proceed with caution, though.
Are parents causing their kids to be fussy eaters? A study by Jane Wardle and colleagues from the University College London, published in the Journal of the American Dietic Association, is highly suggesting that parents who try to control their children’s diet and limit their intake of unhealthy foods may actually be causing them to react by becoming fussy eaters and by overeating.
The question arises whether the parents are merely reacting to existing less than ideal eating habits in their kids, or if their form of diet management is actually the culprit behind fussy eating and overindulging.
Moms put to the test The study by Wardle, etc., surveyed 213 moms to 7 to 9-year-old children. The mothers were asked to comment on how their kids would respond to food; if they would normally overeat given the chance, and whether they would eat slowly or purposefully not finish their food during mealtime.
Aside from these, the moms were also asked about their own methods to addressing their children’s eating habits; did they try to make their kids eat even when they weren’t hungry, and did they think their kids would overeat if not watched over by their parents?
Discovered connections Wardle, etc. discovered an association between the moms’ pressure to have their kids eat healthier food and the kids’ increasing fussiness when eating. The more moms would try to limit what their kids could and could not eat, the more likely they were also likely to believe that their kids would overeat if given the chance. All these were observed, regardless of the child’s weight.
The team noted that these parental strategies may actually be more of a response to how their children react to food, more often skinny kids encouraged to eat more and with bigger kids encouraged to eat with restrictions. They commented, “With growing evidence of a genetic basis to eating behaviour and food intake in children, the present results are consistent with the idea that mothers’ feeding practices are, to some extent, responsive to their children’s predispositions toward food.”
SOURCES: • November 24, 2010. “Study: Do Parents Cause Fussy Eating?” GrowingYourBaby.com • November 24, 2010. “Parental food nagging may produce fussy eaters,” BusinessWorld