ITHACA, N.Y., June 16 (UPI) -- Pre-school children will eat as large a serving as they are given, regardless of how much they last ate, researchers at Cornell University have found.
"We found that portion size is, by far, the most important factor in predicting how much a child will eat," said David Levitsky, professor of nutritional sciences and of psychology at Cornell.
"These findings suggest that both the onus of controlling children's weight -- both in causing overweight in children as well as in its prevention -- must rest squarely in the hands of parents and other caregivers."
Levitsky and Dr. Gordana Mrdjenovic monitored the food intake of 16 preschool children, ages 4-6, for five to seven consecutive days in day-care centers, and parents kept a food diary of what their children ate in the evenings and weekends.
"We found that the more food children are served, the more they eat, regardless of what they've eaten previously in the day, including how big their breakfast was," said Levitsky.
The study is published in the June issue of Appetite.