Unfortunately, obesity is no longer just the realm of adults; this situation is now affecting children of pre-school age and is a worrying aspect.
Early morning was not my usual entertainment time. But just for fun, I switched on the TV to see what was on last week. And I saw one program that was so interesting that I forgot the time. The documentary discussed about child obesity and child eating behavior.
Two most often asked questions from parents were answered in the program:
- Will children stop eating when they are full?
- Will children eat more when they eat and watch TV at the same time?
To find out the answers, the program conducted tests on children. The tests were done in a manner that they simulated the actual situations.
Let’s dive into the tests one at a time.
1) Do children know when they’re full?
Experiment: Feed 5 year olds with spaghetti. On the first day, the right portion (food by weight as recommended by a nutritionist based on the children’s age) of spaghetti was served to about 10 children in a summer school. They finished about 90% of the food being served. When asked, all the kids said they were full and were not interested in second serving.
Second time within the same week, this time the children were served 2 times the right portion of the same food. The result stunned the chef: the kids finished the meals, 75%. When the chef offered to serve more, the kids said they couldn’t eat anymore as they were full. But when they were asked if they would like to have some dessert, almost every kid raised their hands! Goodness me, they could still eat.
Conclusion: Kids eat what is served on the plate. They do not know when to stop eating. Parents are advised to serve the right portion based on their age to prevent overeating.
2) Will children eat more in front of TV?
Experiment: A girl (about 7) was the subject of this test. She was served with her favorite food pizza. The number of pieces of pizza was noted and the food was served in two different situations: eating in front of TV and proper dining table without TV.
Without her knowledge, the girl was observed how much she ate by using hidden cameras. The result: she ate 3 pieces more while watching TV. This may not sound like a lot. But the accumulative effect is unfavorable to her weight.
Conclusion: Yes, kids eat more while watching TV. The solution is to eat with the TV off. With TV, they are distracted by TV program and forget that they are full. That causes the children to eat more. The best is to have a proper meal time by sitting at the dining table with the whole family – for health and family tie.
Two lessons I learned from the program: serve the right portion to children and do not watch TV while eating.
The discoveries might look simple but if parent don’t feed children with the right portion and approach, children may end up eating more than what they need. And what we don’t want is health problems that arise from the extra pounds that our children carry.
Of course, achieving an ideal body weight can only be done in conjunction with a low calorie diet and an exercise plan. This means eating a good diet containing food from all the food groups that includes vitamins and minerals.