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Parental Control of Eating Leads to Lighter Toddlers
Date:1/7/2008

Pushing child to eat more or less food had same effect on weight at age 2, study says

MONDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Controlling what your toddlers consume, either by trying to get them to eat less or to eat more, can lead to a lower weight by the age of 2, new British research suggests.

While a lower weight may be desirable in adults, it's not always in the best interest of a young child, according to the report in the January issue of Pediatrics.

"Nutrition is extremely important in infancy and childhood. In the first two years, the child is growing in height and weight and the brain is growing, so it's extremely important that proper nutrition is provided," explained Dr. Brenda Kohn, a pediatric endocrinologist and an associate professor at the New York University School of Medicine and Medical Center in New York City.

The study authors wanted to better understand the role that parental attitudes toward food played in their child's eventual weight. Previous studies had suggested that when a parent tries to control food intake, it would eventually result in an overweight child, whereas a child who was pressured to eat seemed to end up weighing less.

Sixty-two women were recruited for the study. The average age was 32, and for the majority of the women -- 41 out of 62 -- this was their first child. Most of the women were employed in either professional or administrative positions before the birth of their child.

The mothers all completed a feeding questionnaire when the children were 1, and the youngsters were weighed at 1 and 2 years.

The researchers found that two feeding practices -- restricting food and pressuring to eat -- resulted in lower than average weight scores.

"The findings of this study suggest that, as early as 1 year of age, controlling feeding practices can be causal in predicting child weight," the study's authors wrote.

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