Mums often use food as a means to reward, bribe or entertain their kids. However, researchers in Australia are warning that this can undermine a child's ability self-regulate their own eating according to hunger.
The study, conducted at Queensland University of Technology, Australia, involved over 361 Queensland mothers of infants aged 12 to 36 months.
The researchers found that about 25 per cent of mothers at least sometimes offered food when their child was bored, upset or just to keep them occupied.
The study led by Prof Lynne Daniels, nutrition researcher from Queensland University of Technology said food rewards weakens the child's self regulatory eating habits.
"This emotional use of food is not related to hunger and satiety," smh.com.au, quoted the Daniels, as saying.
Mothers often offer rewards to encourage children to eat more after the child had signalled that they have had enough undermining the ability to know at when they are hungry and when they're not.
"For example, we know children may need to be offered new foods about 10 times or more before they become familiar enough with the food to accept and like it. Only a third of mothers surveyed did this regularly," she added.
"If a child refuses food they're familiar with and usually eat or does not finish their meal, the appropriate response is to accept they are no longer hungry and take the food away, but only a third of mothers were doing that regularly," the researcher said.
She now feels a major threat to child and nutritional health is too much food and an appropriate approach needs to be adopted.