Parents who want to cut their children’s snack intake should give them products they know, according to new research from the University of Bristol.
The research revealed that familiarity with particular food products made children feel fuller and lead to reduced portion size. The results could have important implications in the battle to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis.
Dr Charlotte Hardman, one of the report’s authors, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: "Presenting children with a wide variety of different snack food products may make it difficult to predict their fullness. Our study suggests that if parents choose to give snack foods to their children, they may wish to stick to the same products.”
Familiarity with snacks allowed children to predict the fullness they would feel after eating them and, therefore, choose smaller portion sizes, she said.
The study included 70 children aged between 11 and 12. A computer task was used to measure the fullness that they expected to feel after eating different snack foods. The children also recorded how often they ate the snack foods.
This latest research confirms previous studies with adults, which showed that expectations about how filling foods will be influenced the selection of portion sizes. The study, Children’s familiarity with snack foods changes expectations about fullness, was published online, ahead of print, by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Obesity-related illness is estimated to cost the UK National Health Service £9bn a year.