It is eaten! This also promotes childhood obesity

It is eaten! This also promotes childhood obesity

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Sated children should no longer be fed

If parents force their children to eat the plate empty when they are already full, this is associated with an increased risk of developing obesity in adulthood.

A recent study by the University of North Carolina of almost 50 studies found that the compulsion to eat the plate empty of young children, although they are already full, contributes to an increased likelihood of developing obesity later in life. The results of the research work were published in the English-language journal "Child Development Perspectives".

Do not force full children to eat

Do not force your children to eat the plate empty when they are already full. This way you can reduce their risk of obesity in adulthood. This also applies to overfeeding infants. Infant overfeeding is fueling child obesity rates because they can no longer properly control their appetite, which contributes to obesity, the research team explains. As a result, affected children may experience significant weight gain in adolescence or adulthood.

Many children and infants eat too much

The researchers report that many babies and toddlers consume more calories than they should. Feeding infants beyond their satiety could undermine self-regulation of energy intake.

Do not teach children to handle food improperly

This happens in part because the baby learns to use food through interactions with its parents. Overfeeding means that the baby learns to eat too much. Overfeeding tricks the so-called vagus nerve, which passes on hunger and a feeling of fullness to the brain. This, so to speak, programs the mind to eat more. This in turn can increase the risk of infants for later obesity.

Consequences of childhood obesity

If people are already overweight as children, they are more likely to be overweight in adulthood. The researchers emphasize that infancy and childhood are delicate development phases that offer both opportunities and challenges for parents.

Various studies have been evaluated

The research team analyzed the results of around 50 studies on nutrition, physiology and psychology. They also examined the impact of feeding infants, including how this could derail their ability to self-regulate food intake.

Overfeeding and its consequences

When overfed, infants developed a distorted perception of hunger and satiety, making them prone to obesity and health problems, the research team reports. The first two years of life are a particularly critical time in which the independent eating behavior and self-regulation of the energy supply develop.

Babies know when they have eaten enough

Healthy babies seem to be able to adapt their energy intake to their body's physiological needs for growth and development. However, the feeding of infants by parents affects self-regulation by acting on the vagus nerve, the researchers explain.

Overfeeding prevents proper appetite control

Overfeeding contributes to childhood obesity as the children become unable to properly control their appetite. Interactions with caregivers are known to shape the behavioral and physiological foundations of self-regulation in children. So far, little was known about how these interactions influence self-regulation of nutrition and energy intake, the research group explains. The current study significantly improves understanding of the interplay between parental behavior and children's food intake. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Eric A. Hodges, Cathi B. Propper, Hayley Estrem, Michael B. Schultz: Feeding During Infancy: Interpersonal Behavior, Physiology, and Obesity Risk, in Child Development Perspectives (published 07/14/2020), Child Development Perspectives

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