Pre-school children are fed adult-sized portions by one in ten parents, says a new study. Over-feeding leads to many health complications such as obesity. The researchers found that 80% of children aged one to four are often given more food than they need.
The survey of 1000 parents conducted by the Infant and Toddler Forum (ITF) warned that parents are increasing the chances their children becoming obese.
‘About 17 percent of the parents offered crips to their children four to six times a week and six percent gave them crisps every day.’
The study showed pictures of food to parents and asked them to select the portion sizes they give their children. They were also asked about the frequency of certain foods that they give to youngsters.
The findings of the study showed that around one in ten parents usually served their child an adult-sized portion of popular foods like spaghetti or cheese sandwiches.
About 10% of the respondents gave their children too large servings of snacks, with nearly three in 10 choosing a bigger than necessary portion size of cheese and oatcakes when asked to select from pictures.
Seven in 10 parents also routinely offered their child a bigger portion of crisps than recommended. While more than a third gave their children a whole bag of crisps - nearly twice the recommended amount.
About 45% answered that their child have crisps two or three times a week, 17 percent offered them four to six times a week and six percent gave them crisps every day.
Two in ten parents limited crisps to a once-a-week snack.Two thirds of parents also routinely gave their children too much squash or fruit juice, and a quarter would let children eat a whole pack of jelly sweets as a treat - three times the recommended amount.
Psychologist Gill Harris, of the ITF, said, "It's never too early to start promoting healthy eating habits. Most toddlers are naturally better than older children and adults at regulating their food intake. They usually only eat what they need and don't overeat."
"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.Larger portions form our acceptance about what is an appropriate amount to eat and this becomes the norm.In other words, how much you offer often determines how much your child will eat and habits learned in early life generally tend to persist."
Judy More, pediatric dietitian and member of the ITF, said, "Practical advice for parents on appropriate portion sizes for toddlers has been lacking, so it's not surprising our survey revealed a significant lack of understanding about how much to feed them. With new evidence linking larger portion sizes to excess weight gain, it's clear parents need practical advice now."