July 19 (UPI) -- Having too many junk food options may lead to children eating too much, a new study says.
The larger the quantities and wider the arrays of snack food options snack for kids, the more likely they are to overeat, according to research published Thursday in the International Journal of Obesity.
"There has been a popular push by nutritionists and public health officials towards replacing large dishware with smaller versions to nudge people towards healthier decisions," Jessica Kerr, a researcher at Murdoch Children's Research Institute and study author, said in a news release. "But we have found dishware size has very little effect on the amount of food consumed."
The researchers gave snack boxes filled with crackers, cheese, a muesli bar, biscuits, a container of peaches and chocolate to 1,800 Australian 11- and 12-year-old children and their parents. The size of the boxes and the number of snacks inside of them varied by child and parent, and the children and parents were separated while they ate.
The total number of grams and calories of food eaten by the parents and children were measured, along with their physical activity and sleeping habits.
The findings showed the size of the package had a great impact on how much the children ate. The eating habits of the parents, however, were unchanged.
While the presentation of the packaging had no affect on how much the children ate, the amount of food available did.
Past research has shown people make food options based on how it's displayed.
Nearly 19 percent of children in the United States are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Our research indicates that more attention and resources should be directed to toward offering children smaller amounts of food and, specifically, fewer and less variety of energy-dense foods and pre-packaged items," Kerr said. "Interventions should not solely invest in reducing dishware size in the expectation that this will lead to reduced intake of snack foods."