18 Apr 2019

Challenging the accepted belief that self-regulation is good for kids, a new study shows that children will tend to overeat due to portion size

While it is a given that adults will tend to overeat when presented with large portion sizes, the collective opinion, supported by research, was that young children do not exhibit this behaviour. Indeed, it was widely accepted that young children would self-regulate their intake of food when presented with large portions, adjusting their eating habits as a result.

However, new research by Penn State challenges this belief, and actually demonstrates that young children behave similarly to adults when provided with large portions of food.

The study served the same five daily menus to 46 children aged 3-5 in child care centres over two periods. In the first period the meals were served at baseline portions, while in the second the portion sizes were increased by 50%. The items were weighed to ensure intake was regulated.

The results of the study showed that children did not compensate their intake when presented with larger portion sizes, and therefore showed a much larger intake of food over a five day period. This casts significant doubt on the thinking that self-regulatory behaviour is effective in countering over-eating in young children, and in fact may be encouraging the child obesity epidemic.

Read the report here