While a lot of parents worry that their picky children are not getting the nutrients they need to help them develop and grow, a new study says that the portion amount moms and dads give their kids might be a problem, too. New research shows that bigger portions lead to preschoolers eating more food over time, whether it was in the form of a typical meal or a snack.
There are a lot of reasons why more and more kids are growing obese, from substituting fruits and vegetables to pre-packaged and processed foods to more day-to-day inactivity. But the portion amounts that moms and dads are giving their kids is a problem, too. Research has found that preschool-aged students are consuming more food by both weight and calories according to a study led by a team at Penn State. Children between the ages of three and five ate more when they were given more food on their plates.
According to Science Daily, Alissa Smethers, a doctoral student in nutritional sciences says that both parents and caregivers should be mindful of the portion sizes they give children, along with the kind of meals they are serving to kids. The study was published in the American Journal of Nutrition.
The research used 46 children as participants between the ages of three to five. Each child wore an accelerometer that was given to them for a one-week period. It helped measure their activity levels. During the study, the children were also allowed to eat as much or as little of their food as they wanted.
Smethers said, "It's hard to define portions that are appropriate for all preschoolers since their calorie requirements vary due to differences in height, weight and activity level. But it's a good idea to look at the proportions of different foods you're serving, with fruits and vegetables filling up half the plate and with smaller portions of more calorie-dense foods, as recommended in the USDA MyPlate nutrition guide."
It's also been noted that parents can use portion control strategically, too. By increasing larger portions of fruits and vegetables, this might help get toddlers to eat them more, too. It’s suggested that parents serve larger portions of protein, fruits, and vegetables at the start of a meal and as snacks.
The more kids see, the more likely they are to eat them. Over time, parents can also reduce everyday snacks such as chips, crackers, processed cheese, and other go-to and pre-packaged meals to help adjust a child’s eating habits with self-regulation.