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Maternal Food Control Leads to Lower Weight in Toddlers

Success of restrictions in early childhood may reinforce a strategy that doesn't work as well later

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Controlling an infant's eating habits can have a significant impact on the child's weight at 2 years of age, researchers report in the January issue of Pediatrics.

Claire Victoria Farrow, Ph.D., of Keele University in the United Kingdom, and a colleague followed the children of 62 women from birth through 2 years of age. Mothers completed the Child Feeding Questionnaire at one year and the children were weighed at 1 and 2 years of age. Mothers were primarily white and middle class.

Maternal pressure to eat or the imposition of food restrictions at one year both predicted reduced child weight at age 2. The findings remained significant when controlling for potential confounders, including breast-feeding, birth weight and the child's gender. Monitoring was not found to be a significant predictor of weight at 2 years.

"It is important to note that these findings do not support the use of restrictive feeding practices to control child weight in the long term, and we cannot conclude that such practices do not impede self-regulation of food intake at 2 years or in later childhood," the authors note in their conclusion. "It is possible that these children may have subsequent difficulties regulating their hunger and satiety but that these effects are not yet apparent because of a lack of autonomous eating and free access to foods."

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