'Clean your plate' belief questioned in study

Pediatric journal points to tide of childhood obesity

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In light of a rising tide of childhood obesity, the long-held belief by generations of moms urging their children to “clean their plate” was questioned in study recently published in the journal Pediatrics.

As the chief of metabolic and bariatric surgery of UT Medicine operated by the UT Health Science Center, Dr. Richard Peterson said many of his patients suffering from obesity were urged to do the same as children.

“They had to finish everything on their plate. There’s a lot of guilt associated with leaving food on the plate,” Peterson said.

He said many still feel that way as adults.

Peterson said by eating everything on their plates, children risk ignoring the signs that they’re full.

He said parents can adopt a new approach, beginning with giving their children smaller portions on smaller plates. He said they also should start by eating proteins and vegetables.

In advising kids, he said, “You don’t have to eat tons and tons of vegetables. Find one you like and eat that.”

Peterson said then come the fats and carbohydrates, with limited portions of bread.

He also said many parents also think fruit juices are healthier than sodas.

“There are as many calories in a glass of orange juice, the equivalent of Coca-Cola,” Peterson said.

He said extra calories are easier for children to absorb but only if they’re active.

Peterson said although it’s often easier said than done, meals should take at least 20 minutes, about the time the body begins to signal it’s had enough.

He said it’s OK for kids to tell adults when they feel that way.

“Don’t say you’re full just cause you want to go play,” Peterson said. “If you’re full, then you’re full.”

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.


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