We're all familiar with the power of hunger: It can rack up your bill at the grocery store, turn an otherwise pleasant afternoon into a scavenger hunt for a Snickers bar, or even propel an unassuming toddler to YouTube superstardom (see above). But according to a new study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, it can also cause you to overfeed your little ones around mealtime.
The researchers recruited 29 moms with children between the ages of three and six for the study. Before mealtime, they asked the moms to rate their hunger on a scale of one to 10, as well as how hungry they perceived their kids to be. Time and time again, the hungrier moms assumed their children to be hungrier, too—even resulting in a larger portion served. On average, mothers overserved their children by roughly 175 calories, according to the daily suggested intake guide developed by nutritionists. This effect was especially noticeable among overweight or obese mothers, who dished out particularly generous portions.
While one would think that children stop eating when they're no longer hungry, the opposite happens to be true. "Young children have difficulty recognizing when they are full," said lead author Sarah Stromberg, a psychology doctoral student at the University of Florida, in a recent press release. "The more food they are presented at mealtime, the more they are likely to eat." This is especially problematic when you consider that obesity often begins with unhealthy eating habits, most of which are established during childhood.
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Opening Image: The Grace Tales