|According to the study by Australia's Murdoch Children's Research Institute, snacking has become a major contributor to childhood obesity. [Tuchong]|
A study released on Friday by Australia's Murdoch Children's Research Institute has attempted to tackle problematic snacking by finding out which factors contribute to overeating.
It is not surprising that snacking has become a major contributor to childhood obesity. Given the opportunity, most kids would happily shovel handfuls of chips and chocolate into their mouths between meals, whether out of hunger or boredom or both.
Lead researcher Dr. Jessica Kerr told Xinhua that contrary to common advice, the size of the container or dish in which snacks are served held little influence, while the amount of food with which is presented plays a major role.
The study looked at roughly 1,800 children aged 11-12 who were taking part in a larger study - giving them 15-minute snack breaks in between 20 other health assessments.
"What we found in this study was that children were really significantly affected by how much food they were served, so when we gave them more items and more choice, they consumed a lot more," Kerr said.
"But surprisingly, the size of the dish wear, so the presentation of the foods, didn't have much of an effect and I say that's surprising because it is widely recommended that we use smaller plates for portion control, but our study actually didn't seem to find that the way foods were presented had a big effect."
Australia's childhood obesity rate has ballooned to as much as three times that of thirty years ago, with one in five children now considered overweight or obese.
As a contributing factor in this Kerr believes that snacking has been overlooked in the past when it came to scientific studies.
She said that parents should pay more attention towards offering children smaller amounts of food and, specifically, fewer and less variety of energy-dense foods and pre-packaged items.
"Unfortunately manufacturers do make unhealthy things taste delicious, sodium rich rice crackers for example or chocolate or really high sugary muesli bars," Kerr said.
"But you can do fun things for kids with fruit and vegetables as well and plain rice crackers and plain popcorn and things like that, there's nothing wrong with those things."
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