Parent mealtime strategies can cause kids to become picky eaters

November 23, 2010 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Parent mealtime strategies can cause kids to become picky eaters
A new study from researchers at University College London has found that parents' strategies to encourage healthy eating may in fact have the opposite effect.

The study found that child enjoyment of food was linked to lower maternal pressure to eat.  For instance, parents who tell their children to clean their plate may be causing them to be fussy eaters, while parents who try to tightly control what their children eat could make them prone to overeating.

To investigate, researchers surveyed 213 mothers of 7- to 9-year-old children.  Mothers were asked about how their children responded to food: whether they would typically overeat if given a chance, along with whether they'd eat slowly or routinely fail to finish meals.

Mothers also reported on their own mealtime strategies, including whether they tried to get their children to eat when they weren't hungry or whether they believed their children would overindulge without eating restrictions.

Overall, researchers found a link between the mothers' pressure to eat healthy food and children's degree of fussiness over food. In addition, the more mothers restricted their children's food, the more likely mothers were to say their children would overindulge if allowed.

The links were seen regardless of the children's weight.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Trying to get the teen in your life to eat healthier?  Pick up Leslie Beck's book Healthy Eating for Preteens and Teens, a practical family guide that covers every aspect of essential nutrition to help raise healthy teens.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.