The study found overweight infants are not eating more frequently or unhealthily - it's down to portion sizes.
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of London has found many parents are unknowingly over-feeding their young children and promoting obesity.
Children aged 4-18 months were assessed on what kind of food they ate, the amount of food, and frequency of meals in relation to their weight. In all, 2,564 infants from the UK were involved in the study which found that although overweight children tend to eat similar foods to healthy weight children, the portion sizes were bigger, according to a BBC report.
The study also found that these bigger portions were merely around 10 calories more – around a teaspoon amount – showing the ease at which parents can overfeed their children.
Author of the report, Hayley Syrad, stated that it should be emphasised that this isn’t a case of parents feeding children unhealthy food it’s just down to the amount of meal portions. The study also showed that overweight children didn’t eat more frequently than their healthier counterparts.
“The research suggests eating frequency is having no impact on weight and it’s not that parents of larger children are giving them an extra Mars bar or apple – it’s that their portions are bigger.”
“Although the difference in average meal size between the overweight and healthy-weight children seems small [11 calories, perhaps an extra spoonful of baked beans with a meal] children are eating on average five times per day so the difference over the course of a week is considerable.”
It’s because of this that Syrad believes more should be done to create better guidelines that state specific amounts and portion sizes and making these more accessible to parents.
The next step is to focus more on other possible causes of the development of early childhood obesity now that portion sizes are one of the major risk factors.
The findings are to be presented at the European Obesity Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden and are waiting to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.