Pediatrician
Dr. Shapiro completed his undergraduate education at UC San Diego, earning a B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and a B.A. in Political Science. He furthered his education at UCLA where he earned a Masters Degree in Public…
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Are Your Big Plates Contributing to Childhood Obesity?
Posted in Obesity by Dr. Jeremy F. Shapiro on Apr 23, 2013
During the course of my well-child-care visits (AKA physicals), I often bring up the topic of portion control with patients (pending their age if appropriate) and their parents/caregivers. And often I will discover that many children and parents don’t realize how large an impact dietary portions play on the child’s overall health. Yes, most seem to realize the importance of healthy eating; a balanced dietary intake of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and daily routine physical activity, but portion control is something often overlooked.

And in light of a new research study to be published in next month’s journal Pediatrics, I find this to be a perfect opportunity to remind parents of the importance of portion control (regardless of how healthy the foods might be) when it comes to their children because of its impact on calorie intake. Because we all know, the more calories we consume (despite how much physical activity we engage in) may ultimately lead to overweight issues.

The premise of this research study stemmed from the basic acknowledgement that Americans now use larger dishware than they did in past decades. And because earlier studies have shown that children eat more when served more, the researchers hoped to find out whether using larger plates and bowls was a reason for children consuming more food. And before anyone says it certainly seems like common sense (because I would have to agree), we need these types of studies to institute change (just look at the over-sizing of fast food meals the past couple of decades.)

And the 2 key findings of the study:
- 1st grade students did serve themselves more and ate more than 50% of the calories when using the larger dishware.

- And more fruit was consumed when using the larger dishware but surprise surprise, fewer vegetables were eaten.
So while more research needs to be done to confirm this is leading to the childhood obesity epidemic we are currently facing, I do think it’s something for parents to consider: using smaller sized plates. And if after 5-10 minutes, the child is still hungry, then it’s okay to serve that 2nd serving.

Any thoughts?

- Dr. Jeremy

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