Maternal feeding practices have an impact on child's eating behavior
Surging rates of obesity worldwide have compelled the scientists to find the reasons contributing to it. Researchers from Washington State University have found that the eating habits of the mother and her behavior on the dining table have an influence on the eating behavior of her children. The research has been published in the recent issue of the journal Appetite.
As the obesity rates among preschoolers are the highest in children from the African-American population (21%) and the children from the Latino population (22%), the study was conducted among the mothers and preschool children of these groups. The study involved 222 pairs of low income mothers and their children. The mothers were asked to fill up questionnaires regarding their own eating habits, their feeding practices, and their children’s eating behavior.
The researchers noted that mother who ate even when they were full and pushed their children to finish what’s on their plate, had children who were picky eaters. Being strict with the children by withholding them from eating until their next meal also lead to fussy eating behavior of children. Mothers who ate in response to external stimuli (like the sight or aroma of food) or in response to their emotions, had children with a strong desire to eat.
The researchers have opined that serving small portions of food at a time and giving the children more, only when they ask for it, helps in creating a positive mealtime experience in the kids. Such children are less likely to overeat. The eating behavior inculcated in childhood is carried over into the adulthood. Therefore, it can help in curbing the rate of obesity.
It is also important to remember that small children tend to get hungry every two to three hours. So withholding food from them until the next meal will lead them to binge on food and promote obesity. If children are completely stopped from eating junk, then they are more likely to consume these foods in excess when they grow up. Therefore, mothers should limit the availability of high calorie low nutrient foods, but not stop them completely.
Editor: Dr. Bimal Rajalingam MBBS DNB (Resp Med)
Tuesday, September 11, 2012