Watch How High You Pile Your Child's Plate

Amount of food you put before them a major factor in how much they eat

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TUESDAY, June 28, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The amount of food you put on your young child's plate is the main factor influencing how much he or she will eat, according to a Cornell University study.

This finding contradicts the common belief that young children adjust how much they eat at a meal according to how much they ate at their last meal or within the previous 24 hours, or how calorie-rich their meal is, the researchers said.

"We examined all the predictors we could of how much a child eats at a meal," David Levitsky, a professor of nutritional sciences and psychology, said in a prepared statement. "We found that portion size is, by far, the most important factor in predicting how much a child will eat. These findings suggest that the onus of controlling children's weight -- both in causing overweight in children as well as in its prevention -- must rest squarely in the hands of parents and other caregivers."

For this study, Levitsky and a colleague tracked the food intake of 16 preschool children, aged 4 to 6, for five to seven consecutive days.

"We found that the more food children are served, the more they eat, regardless of what they've eaten previously in the day, including how big their breakfast was. We also found that the more snacks children are offered, the greater their total daily food and calorie intake," Levitsky said.

The study appears in the June issue of Appetite.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and healthy eating.

SOURCE: Cornell University, news release, June 15, 2005

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