If you think that letting your child eat a slice of cake after meals won’t hurt, this recent study might make you think otherwise.
New research conducted by a team from the University of Michigan Health System discovered a possible link between desserts and childhood weight management, especially for those in low-income households. “Eating in the absence of hunger is associated with being overweight among older children, but this is the first time we’ve seen this link in children as young as toddlerhood,” said study senior author Julie C. Lumeng in a news item.
The findings were based on tests done on kids age 1 to 3 who were arranged to have no food intake for an hour, then fed a sufficient amount of food for lunch. Afterwards, the toddlers were offered two kinds of after-meal treats: sugar-based foods in the form of chocolate chip cookies, and salty food such as potato chips. There was no restriction as to the amount that the kids are allowed to consume. After successive opportunities of providing treats, they were taken out of the kids’ diets.
Results revealed a significant increase in the body mass index (BMI) of children who preferred sweets after lunch when they reached 33 months. In contrast, those who liked salty snacks did not show any obvious increase in BMI.
The study provides important information about the impact of snacking after meals, even at an early age. “The tendency to eat when you’re not hungry increases with age and could have lifelong implications for weight gain… We need to explore ways to target this drive to eat before children even turn three,” Lumeng added.
The study was recently published in the journal Pediatrics.