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Toddlers Who Have A Bigger Appetite for Dessert Experience More Weight Gain

The study, “Eating in the Absence of Hunger and Weight Gain in Low-Income Toddlers,” in the May 2016 issue of Pediatrics (published online April 18) examines how eating in the absence of hunger is linked with increases in weight. For the study, researchers asked 209 low-income mothers to have each child fast for one hour, then eat a substantial lunch comprised of two different foods and a drink. After lunch, children were presented with a tray of salty snack food and desserts and allowed to eat as much as they wanted. The children’s affect when the palatable food was presented and removed was noted. Researchers found that children who ate more dessert and who became upset when the food was removed, experienced gradually increasing indices of body fat by age 33 months. The authors conclude that since eating in the absence of hunger increases with age, and behavioral intervention has the potential to reduce eating in the absence of hunger, timing of interventions targeting this behavior may need to occur before age 3 years.


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