Three-quarters of toddlers being overfed by parents
Published 05/07/2016 | 02:30
Parents are being warned not to over-feed their children after research found one in 10 regularly serves up adult-sized portions of popular meals.
The poll of 1,000 parents also found that 79pc of children aged one to four are often given more than the recommended portion size for their age.
As part of the study, parents looked at pictures of food to select the portion sizes they give their children, and were asked how often they give children certain foods.
The photos included snacks such as oatcakes and cheese, and popular meals such as spaghetti bolognese.
The results showed that around one in 10 parents serve their child close to an adult-size portion of spaghetti bolognese or cheese sandwiches.
More than a third of parents gave children a whole bag of crisps - nearly twice the recommended amount.
Meanwhile, more than a third (36pc) of parents also admitted they use food or drink as a way of calming children down when they are upset.
The research also showed that 65pc of parents routinely offered too much cordial or fruit juice, and 24pc of parents gave children a whole pack of jelly sweets as a treat - three times the recommended amount.
The Infant and Toddler Forum (ITF), which commissioned the UK research, warned that parents are increasing the chances children will become obese. Gill Harris, child and clinical psychologist and a member of the ITF, said: 'It's never too early to start promoting healthy eating habits. Most toddlers are naturally better than older children and adults at regulating their food intake.
"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."