Obesity Begins at Home

Obesity Begins at Home

my next two stories are about kids fifty years ago fat kids were virtually unknown now one in four American children is obese and it's getting worse they're heading for adult lives of heart disease stroke or diabetes somehow our kids have become too inactive or the reading too much or both now do you guys know why you're here today right to eat lunch now do you have to eat everything on your plate no right you could eat whatever you want anything you don't want you can leave it on your plate okay this classic experiment explores our most basic relationship with food the judgment we have of the right amount to eat there are five children between three and five years old their lunches are the right size for this age group about 400 calories they're told to just eat what they want and as the meal ends three trays still have food but a couple are almost empty and they belong to the older kids that's because young kids listen to their body's telling them when to stop whereas older kids and adults are controlled by outside influences as kids get older because we try to socialize them into eating when it's time to eat and finishing what's on their plate they begin to really learn that there are other things in the world that can control their eating tivity the slices are going to be about twice the size that they were um in yesterday's condition okay the next day the same five kids come for lunch this time their portions are doubled much more food than they need and now the split between younger and older is obvious the two five year olds have cleaned their plates just like you're supposed to what children may be learning when we serve them larger portion sizes and encourage them to finish those portion sizes is that that's the amount that's appropriate for them to eat there's nothing wrong with finishing your food so long as what was on your plate there's the right amount like a happy meal with cheeseburger quarter pounder with cheese a medium fries and a medium coke Thank You LeAnn Bertsch who has been studying children and eating for 25 years believes that our view of appropriate portion sizes has been steadily going up what you see here is a happy meal which has about 630 calories in it this is for a young child probably nearly half the energy that the child should have for whole day large portions are regarded as appropriate for adults as well with the trend to supersizing the super-sized meal which has about eighteen hundred and thirty calories would just about do it for me for the entire day with my calories and yet these are the kinds of portion sizes that are out there that are supposed to be consumed in a single meal we're back in the lab for another experiment on kids attitudes to food we're going to turn one of these foods into forbidden fruit in the beginning of this study we basically are offering children a wheat cracker and a goldfish cracker and we're offering them in equal amounts because we want children to have the ability to have equal sort of access to both of these foods first they want to make sure the kids will at least eat goldfish in fact they all need a bit of both but not a lot of anything but now the status of goldfish is about to be transformed the second part we're actually going to change the rules so that they can still have as many wheat crackers as they want but the goldfish crackers are going to become off-limits when I ring the bell you guys are going to be able to eat the goldfish crackers okay so there are no goldfish crackers until we ring the bell for an agonising five minutes those delicious desirable fantastic goldfish are absolutely unobtainable okay you know what I mean that means when we ring the bell last it's goldfish time and you don't have to be a psychologist to figure out what happens the kids pick out its forbidden fruit effect a lot clearly this isn't the way to change kids eating habits paradoxical a restriction that only is not an effective way of promoting moderation but it seems to promote the behaviors that parents intend to avoid by using that practice do you know what tummy that is and that's an empty tummy all right what kind of tummy is this you'd be full right how do you feel right now if you can feel in our next experiment we're working with kids who have just had a meal they shouldn't feel hungry it's full okay we've got pretzel yes now Elizabeth has shown a large tray of snacks chips ice cream cookies and popcorn which she likes and chocolate chip all right now I need to go next door for about ten minutes to do some work all right I'm just going to leave this is extra food that we have if you don't want it you know you don't have to eat it but if you want to you can eat anything you want and we also have this box of toys here this is ten here so gel pen so write on that so I'm going to leave this last day and I'm also going to leave the tray with you Elizabeth once left alone behaves in a way that might surprise you she ignores the food so far at least Elizabeth is not terribly interested it takes a while for bored with the toys she finally gets around to trying just some popcorn her favorite food now take a look at Morgan when he's left alone he digs in is the important point Morgan comes from a home where access to these attractive sweet or salty snack foods is strictly controlled whereas Elizabeth is unrestricted parents who tended to use a fair amount of restrictive feeding practices namely parents were concerned about their kids consuming too many of these kinds of palatable foods and who restricted their kids opportunities to eat those things actually had the children who ate the most if you came home and you had any one of those snack foods without asking your parents first would they be upset and when you have the ice-cream can you have as much as you want or does your mom dish out a certain amount for you she said your mouth and if you want more to see that you have more no just one restriction actually tends to foster consumption in the absence of hunger in children and increased interest in the very foods that parents think children shouldn't be eating and conversely pressuring children to eat healthy foods tends to turn them off with respect to to those foods so what are you doin stead and then I think as a parent that's really the tough part I think there there are a couple of things one is we need to help parents to understand what a reasonable portion sizes for children so that parents have reasonable expectations about how much foods kids need to eat the other thing is we need to think help parents to appreciate how children learn to like foods that aren't sweet and that aren't salty and the way that you do that is you have to I think be pretty patient as a parent we know that kids initially reject a lot of new foods unless they're sweet or salty and it's only with repeated presentations non-coercive presentation that kids learn to eat a lot of those foods without that kind of perceptive Parenthood our kids are caught in to terrible traps first we say finish your food then we put too much food on the plate then we say that high fat high calorie snack foods are forbidden so kids want to binge on but it gets worse take a look at our next story


  1. If you eat trash, eating smaller portions doesn't make much difference. Pizza and fast food? Really? If you nix the junk and eat only whole, natural foods, portion control is unnecessary. The garbage they're showing in this video causes food addictions and nutrient deficiencies, which both increase not only consumption size, but addictive consumption of junk. Growing up, my mother fed us only healthful foods, The result? That's all I want today. The S.A.D. and damaging additives cause obesity.

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