The eating patterns in children have evolved to cope with an environment of scarcity. Today, however, traditional child feeding practices promote overeating and obesity, leading to health problems in adolescents. How can we shape our children’s taste preferences in order to foster healthy eating habits? Dr. Leann Birch examines the transition from breastfeeding to a solid diet with a special focus on how children familiarize themselves with specific foods. Birch presents data from various studies showing the effects of early eating patterns on food intake and weight status in later childhood.
A case in point is that soda intake at 5 years of age predicts weight status in the adolescent. Birch shows a video clip from popular chef Jamie Oliver, documenting young children who did not recognize simple vegetables. What are children actually eating? Sweetened beverages and French fries are top on the list of calories consumed, with low fruit and vegetable consumption. Is it too late to change these preferences? Birch takes us through the process of food familiarization in infants, showing how we can apply the principles learned from this process to re-calibrate the eating habits of older children.