Researchers have found yet another cause for the obesity epidemic among young children in the United Kingdom. The Infant and Toddler Forum (ITF) commissioned a survey of 1,000 parents and discovered that 79% of 1- to 4-year-olds are regularly being fed food portions that are more than the recommended amount of food for their age.
The survey showed that many parents are unaware that a great deal of pre-portioned food products are sized for adults. The ITF has warned that parents are unknowingly overfeeding their children or giving kids adult-sized meals which are contributing to the chances of childhood weight problems.
Katherine Derla of Tech Times reports that the survey asked parents to look at pictures of food with various portion sizes. They were then directed to point out the serving size they regularly gave their kids and were also instructed to share how often they gave their young ones specific food items.
Ten percent of mothers and fathers gave their children snacks that were larger than they should have been. Of the parents who took the survey, 27% chose portion sizes that were too big. And approximately 71% of parents often give their youngsters servings of crisps that were more than the appropriate amount.
Also, 45% of parents served their kids crisps as often as three times a week, 17% gave them crisps six times a week, and 6% gave crisps to their girls and boys every day. A mere 20% served crisps once a week, which is the best option.
"However, portion size is critical. It's one of the main ways in which, as parents, we can inadvertently override children's self-regulation systems," said child and clinical psychologist and ITF member Gill Harris.
Harris said toddlers have a natural ability to regulate their food intake and seldom overeat because they eat only what their bodies need.
In spite of the report's findings, three-quarters of moms and dads said they were concerned that their young ones were not eating enough, write Rosie Taylor and Anna Hodgekiss for the Daily Mail. Only one-quarter of the adults were worried that their children could become overweight at some future date.
The IFT study found that pasta was the most difficult dish to portion, especially since toddlers are being given adult-sized bowls instead of the two to five tablespoons of pasta shells or spaghetti bolognese that is appropriate for them.
According to the research, over one-third of parents who give their little ones a treat to attempt to thwart temper tantrums are setting up their kids to use food for comforting when they are adults.
Ruki Sayid, reporting for the Mirror, writes that two-thirds of moms and dads "routinely" give their preschoolers too many sweets, juices, and fruity drinks in the UK.
"Outside mealtimes and snacks that are built into a routine, young children shouldn't be given any more food as they don't need it. And treats should only be given once a week – not routinely. Two to four sweets once a week is enough but parents are giving children the whole packet."
An average breakfast for a toddler, say the scientists, would consist of a half to a whole egg with a half to a medium slice of toast or three to six heaped tablespoons of cornflakes. Add to that a quarter to a half apple and 120 ml of milk and serve, they recommend.