A Simple Way to Fight Childhood Obesity

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The most recent edition of the journal, Pediatrics, reported the results of an interesting study that sought to examine obesity in first grade children in a Philadelphia school.

A total of 42 children, mostly black, were repeatedly observed during lunch. On a random basis these children were either given a child-size plate and bowls or a larger, adult-size plate and bowls to go through the lunch line. The children served themselves an entrée and side dishes.

The observers noted the choices and amounts of food selected. Entrees of amorphous and unit form were served and evaluated on different days. Side dishes at each meal included choices of fruits and vegetables. A fixed portion of milk and bread was served at each meal.

The researchers concluded that the children consumed considerably more calories when they served themselves using larger plates and bowls. The children served themselves approximately 100 percent more calories on days when they used the larger plates and bowls. On average the children consumed 50 percent of the calories they served themselves.

The portion sizes the children served themselves were clearly influenced by size-related aspects of their eating environment. This almost seems self-evident. Children will serve themselves less food if the plate they are eating off of is smaller. This means they will consume fewer calories and thus have a greater chance of not gaining too much weight.

It is obvious that other factors such as activity levels also affect whether a child will become obese.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to see a study that seems to confirm what we almost take for granted. The important thing to take from this study is that this is something easy that any parent can implement. It is not expensive or time consuming to acquire smaller plates for the food that parents serve to their children.

Readers who want to read more about this and some other recent studies dealing with childhood obesity can click here.

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