Evidence-based Portion Sizes for children aged 1-4 years available to support healthy growth and development
With growing evidence of the impact of increasing portion sizes on the amounts of food that adults and children consume(1), simple and practical advice on portion sizes could be key in curbing the obesity crisis. The Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF) has revamped its online resource to create a user-friendly, visual guide on how much food to offer young children. The guide is now accessible on all devices including mobile, tablet, and desktop computer.
The UK is facing a health crisis related to poor diet. Almost one in ten children starting school are obese, amounting to over 60,000 children in 2013-2014.(2)
One predictor of how much young children eat is how much is put on their plates (3, 4, 5). We also know that in the UK, adult portion sizes have increased dramatically within the last twenty years.(6) A toddler’s energy needs are significantly lower than that of an adult so they require smaller meals. There is often anxiety among parents about what and how much to feed their child.(7) Practical advice that can help parents and carers offer young children appropriate amounts may help in our fight against childhood obesity.
Judy More, Paediatric Dietitian and Member of the ITF said: ““How much toddlers eat varies widely from day to day and meal to meal, so parents and carers shouldn’t worry if some days their toddler eats less than on other days. Our advice provides portion size ranges rather than specific amounts, to address the fluctuating appetites of growing children and helps to achieve the correct nutritional balance and calories needed for healthy growth and development. These ranges are easy to use and include the foods parents and carers usually offer toddlers. The portion sizes guide offers a combination of foods across the five food groups with advice on healthy limits for high-fat or high-sugar foods.”
The new online portion size guide can be found here: http://www.infantandtoddlerforum.org/portion-sizes-table-2015
(2) Poor Beginnings, NCB, September 2015
(3) Birch LL, Johnson SL, Andresen G, Peters J, Schultze MC. The variability of young children’s energy intake. New England Journal of Medicine, 1991, 324,232‐5.
(4) Faith MS, Kelley S, Birch LL, Francis L, Sherry B. Parent‐Child feeding strategies and their relationship to child eating and weight status. Obesity Research, 2004, 12, 11, 1711‐1722.
(5) Galloway AT, Fiorito LM, Francis LA, Birch LL. Finish your soup; counterproductive effects of pressuring children to eat on intake. Appetite, 2006, 46, 318‐323.
(6) Benson, C. (2009) ’Increasing portion size in Britain.’ Society, biology and human affairs., 74 (2). pp. 4‐20.
(7) Amy Slater, Jane Bowen, Nadia Corsini*, Claire Gardner, Rebecca Golley and Manny Noakes; Understanding parent concerns about children’s diet, activity and weight status: an important step towards effective obesity prevention interventions (2009)