Researchers at Cornell University have found that the greatest determinant of how much a child will eat is directly based on the amount of food they are served.
The study found that the more food children were served, the more they would eat, regardless of what had been eaten earlier that day or the nutritional content of the food (fat, protein, carbohydrate content). Researchers monitored the eating habits of 16 children for up to 7 days in a row. Food intake was tracked at daycares and at home with the help of food diaries. Children consistently ate more food when given the option, even if that meant exceeding their daily requirement of calories.
These findings contradict earlier findings that suggested children would naturally adjust their appetite based on earlier food intake.
Researchers conclude that children are no better than adults when it comes to adjusting appetite based on natural satiety cues. To prevent overeating for adults and children alike, researchers recommend serving smaller portions or using smaller serving dishes.
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