BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in:  Health
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Tuesday, 1 June, 1999, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Children rebel over diet restrictions
Children need a balanced diet, say researchers
Restricting children's access to snacks may actually encourage them to adopt an unhealthy diet, according to US research.

It found that children who were only allowed access to certain snacks for a short period were likely to eat more of them than snacks to which they were given free rein.

The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that restricting access to sugary and fatty foods may in the long term have the opposite effect to that intended.

In the US, young children's diet is high in fat and sugar and well below government recommended levels for fruit and vegetables.

Only 1% of children aged two to 19 are estimated to eat a balanced diet and obesity is becoming a widescale problem.

The researchers who carried out the study say restricting access to unhealthy foods may seem a simple way of tackling the problem.

But they suggest it may be better in the long run to let children eat snacks, as long as they are seen to be part of a balanced diet.

Experiments

They studied two groups of children.

The first group of 31 children were three to five years old.

If snacks are restricted, children want them more
They were asked to rate a range of snacks in order of preference.

Two snacks which had similar neutral scores were chosen for the experiment - peach and apple bar cookies.

The children were asked which of the two foods they would choose as a snack.

One of the bars was restricted and children were only allowed acess to it for a very short time during the five-week study.

The second study included 40 three to six year olds.

Certain snacks were restricted from their diet. Their behaviour was studied at a daycare centre when the snack was placed in a jar in front of them and they were only allowed access to it for very short periods.

Their parents were also interviewed about whether they also restricted the snack at home.

The first experiment found that children were more likely to ask for the forbidden snack, more likely to say nice things about it and more likely to try and obtain it than the other snack.

The second experiment also found that children tended to eat more of the restricted snack when they were given access to it than to the control snack.

Children whose parents restricted access at home were more likely to be overweight.

Self control

The researchers, led by Dr Jennifer Orlet Fisher, conclude that even young children are "acutely aware" of restrictions on their food intake and that limiting access throws a greater focus on the forbidden food.

They say limiting food may interfere with a child's ability to exercise self-control over their diet.

"Restricting children's access to palatable food within their eating environment does not promote moderate patterns of intake and paradoxically may actually promote the very behaviour its use is intended to reduce," they conclude.

See also:

28 May 98 | Latest News
Fewer holidays for couch potatoes
18 Jun 98 | Health
America gets fatter
12 Nov 98 | Health
Obesity epidemic 'ignored'
14 Dec 98 | Health
The young risk their health
13 Jan 99 | Health
Tough guidance on obesity drugs
13 Jan 99 | Health
Fat hope for an obesity cure
19 Apr 99 | Health
Obesity rise 'founded on denial'
27 May 99 | Health
Task force takes on obesity
01 Jun 99 | Health
Obesity drug does keep you slim
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories