Study Finds MOST Toddlers Are Being Overfed 3 years ago

Study Finds MOST Toddlers Are Being Overfed

It's par for the course for parents to worry that their little ones aren't getting enough nourishment, but a new study suggests these concerns are contributing to an obesity time bomb.

A study by the UK's Infant and Toddler Forum (ITF) showed that parents are confused about portion sizes, with one in ten expecting their children to polish off adult size portion. The research showed mums and dads are particularly over generous with starches like pasta, piling it onto the plate instead of measuring out two to five tablespoons, the recommended amount for toddlers.

In the poll of 1,000 parents, a whopping 79 per cent admitted they regularly try and encourage their under fours to eat an extra helping on top of the recommended amounts.

When parents were shown pictured of various foods and asked to demonstrate a serving they would typically serve to their children, researchers were shocked to see that one in ten chose a portion of cheese sandwiches or spaghetti that would usually be served to an adult. However, 73 per cent are more concerned that their child does not eat enough - twice as likely as they are to be concerned that their child eats too much. Only 25 per cent of parents worry that their child might become overweight in the future.

Even more parents regularly flout the recommendations when it comes to fruit juices and cordials too, with 65 per cent pouring out too much for their little ones.

One third of mums and dads (36 per cent) admitted they rely on food to calm their children down and 24 per cent of the parents polled handed over a full packet of sweets to their offspring, a serving that was three times what is deemed healthy.

ITF child psychologist Gill Harris said that overfeeding small children can eventually override their self-regulation systems, putting them on the path to portion confusions and obesity:

“Most toddlers are naturally better than older children and adults at regulating their food intake." said Harris.

“They usually only eat what they need and don’t overeat. However, portion size is critical. It’s one of the main ways in which, as parents, we can inadvertently override children’s self-regulation systems.”

"Larger portions form our acceptance about what is an appropriate amount to eat and this becomes the norm. In other words, how much you offer often determines how much your child will eat and habits learned in early life generally tend to persist."

According to the ITF's new “Rethink Toddler Portion Sizes” campaign these are the ideal portion sizes for some of the most common toddler foods:

Granary bread: half or one slice

Mashed potato: one-four tablespoons

Chips: four to eight, thick-cut

Rice: two to five tablespoons

Pasta: two to five tablespoons

Dry cereal: two to five heaped tablespoons

Processed cheese: One triangle of mini Babybel

Chocolate: Two to four squares, six to eight Chocolate Buttons

Crisps: Four to six crisps

Pizza: One or two small slices

To access information on portion sizes for a range of foods, click here. Do you monitor your toddler's portion sizes? Let us know on Twitter @HerFamilydotie.