Herald Sun (Australia) December 03, 2007
Overfeeding is a major threat to children’s health, especially through sweet treats used as behaviour bribes, a new study has found. Up to half of all parents rely on popular treats such as Tiny Teddies, juice boxes or lolly snakes to get kids to sit still or behave in the supermarket, Queensland University of Technology research shows. “This is undermining a child’s ability to self-regulate, and how to eat when they are hungry and not to eat when they are not,” nutrition professor Lynne Daniels said. She called for an end to the overfeeding of children and the offering of food for emotional reasons. …Children’s food preferences were set by the time they were five, giving parents a narrow window to set good habits, Prof Daniels said. Feeding babies even titbits of cake and soft drink can give them a taste for sweet and salty foods over nutritious fruit and vegetables. Up to half of mothers are encouraging bad habits by using food as bribes, rewards or as a way to alleviate boredom, the QUT survey of 361 mothers of babies aged one to three has found.
Prof Daniels found that many parents:
OFFER food as rewards.
GIVE up too quickly when offering healthy food.
OFFER food to alleviate boredom or when their child was upset or needed to be kept occupied.
CONTINUE to offer food once the child has signalled he or she is not hungry.
Prof Daniels said children needed to be offered new foods about 10 times or more before they became familiar enough to accept and like it.