Overweight kids can (partly) blame their parents

Articles
October 30, 2008

Overweight kids can (partly) blame their parents

Do overweight kids have two strikes against them--courtesy of their parents-- before they grow into adults? Could be, judging from two recent research studies that identify parental errors in establishing their sons’ and daughters’ relationships with food. Mistake one is the classic, “Finish all of your food that’s on your plate,” regardless of a child’s appetite at the time. This correlates closely with portion control—how much food to put on a plate—which was studied recently by Jennie Fisher, an associate professor of public health, and a research team at Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education, as reported by the Washington Post. In their study, 61 children ages 5 and 6 could help themselves to pasta, sometimes using teaspoons or tablespoons, or large or small serving vessels. Subjects took 60% more food when offered in larger vessels that held double the amount of food, perhaps thinking an adult figured that more was appropriate for their age and size. Children who took more ate more.

Do overweight kids have two strikes against them--courtesy of their parents--  before they grow into adults?

Could be, judging from two recent research studies that identify parental errors in establishing their sons’ and daughters’ relationships with food.

Mistake one is the classic, “Finish all of your food that’s on your plate,” regardless of a child’s appetite at the time.  This correlates closely with portion control—how much food to put on a plate—which was studied recently by Jennie Fisher, an associate professor of public health, and a research team at Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education, as reported by the Washington Post.

In their study, 61 children ages 5 and 6 could help themselves to pasta, sometimes using teaspoons or tablespoons, or large or small serving vessels. Subjects took 60% more food when offered in larger vessels that held double the amount of food, perhaps thinking an adult figured that more was appropriate for their age and size. Children who took more ate more.

Mistake two is parental unawareness or denial that their sons or daughters are overweight. In a recent study by the Universities of Washington and Minnesota, a mere 13% of parents recognized their children were fat.

Here’s one outcome cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted in the Chicago Tribune:  More than 19% of children ages 6 to 11 are considered seriously overweight and face greater risk of cardiovascular disease. More than 80% of overweight children are likely to become obese adults.

These findings present excellent opportunities for food retailers to help educate adult shoppers about the right household relationships between food and need, enjoyment and growth. This week’s Halloween trick-or-treating is likely an allowable exception, but during 364 other days in the year encouraging discipline at the kitchen table (know when to get up) could possibly prevent today’s children from becoming America’s next generation of obese.