Why children shouldn’t be asked to clear their plates
A new study has shown childcare providers don’t know the obesity dangers of asking children to clear their plates.
Being asked to eat all your dinner is common practice when trying to get youngsters to eat well, with particular emphasis often placed on eating all your greens to grow big and strong.
However evidence suggests that asking kids to finish their food can cause problems with weight later on, including childhood obesity, and that not all daycare workers are aware of this.
Researchers from the University of Nebraska spoke with 18 women across different nurseries that looked after children aged between two and five. Bearing in mind previous research has concluded children who experience controlled eating stop listening to their own hunger cues, and carry on eating when they’re full, the team wanted to know how these daycare workers viewed mealtimes.
The 18 participants oversaw an average age of 42 and had been working in their jobs for roughly 12 years. They had all been educated after high school, with eight gaining a college degree.
It was found some of the test group used controlling feeding practices as they found them effective, especially with fussy eaters. They also mentioned that food, like sweets, can make an effective reward when toilet training.
Of those who didn’t ask the children to clean their plates, some said they encouraged the kids in their care to try everything on their plate.
Some of the women didn’t use any time of controlled feeding, claiming they found it ineffective and because they wanted to the kids to regulate their own food intake. A percentage also knew about research linking the feeding practices to childhood obesity.
“This study also found that childcare providers use controlling feeding practices because of fear of parents' negative reaction if they find that their child did not eat,' said lead study author Dipti Dev.
“Childcare providers should avoid controlling feeding practices such as avoiding giving food as reward, encouraging but not pressuring children to eat their food and avoiding to praise children for cleaning their plates.”
Results have been published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.