Why Our Mothers Were Wrong About Cleaning Our Plates

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Parents hate to see kids waste their food. But researchers at the University of Minnesota recently discovered parents’ traditional  approach to meal times–boy, you better clean that plate! no junk food!–can lead to obesity in kids and teens later on, CNN reports.

The University of Minnesota team looked at data from two existing studies, one about kids’ weight and eating habits and the other on family dynamics and its effect on teen weight. What researchers found by looking at that data was kids who are pushed to finish all the food on their plates maintained a normal weight for the most part but their eating habits were affected long after they finished the no green vegetables stage. Children need to be able to understand when they’re really full. Interestingly, the study also found athers pressured kids to finish the entire meal than mothers did and parents tended to push their teens to finish their food, often even if the child was already overweight. Kate Loth, the study’s lead author said, “Parental pressure to eat can be detrimental to children because it takes away from a child’s ability to respond naturally to their own hunger. Instead, (it) encourages them to respond to cues in their environment which can lead to unhealthy weight gain over time.”

The research team also found that when parents said no to certain foods like sweets, children became more interested in having them and were also more likely to overindulge when given the chance. To combat that tendency, researchers recommend kids get to eat all foods in moderation so they grow up to make healthy food choices. Of course, it’s more important parents show their kids what healthy eating looks like rather than tell them.

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