Emo­tional eat­ing starts in child­hood, ex­perts re­veal

Fiji Sun - - Sun Spectrum - Feed­back: jy­otip@fi­jisun.com.fj

Food can be an ex­tremely ef­fec­tive tool for calm­ing young chil­dren. If they are bored on a long car jour­ney, or fed up with be­ing in the pushchair, many par­ents use snack foods to dis­tract them for a lit­tle longer. Or if chil­dren are up­set be­cause they have hurt them­selves or want some­thing they can­not have, the of­fer of some­thing sweet is of­ten used to ‘make them feel bet­ter’.

But what are the ef­fects of us­ing food as a tool to deal with emo­tions like bore­dom or sad­ness?

Does it turn chil­dren into adults who can­not cope with be­ing bored or up­set with­out a sweet snack? There is a grow­ing body of ev­i­dence which sug­gests that us­ing food as a tool or as a re­ward reg­u­larly with chil­dren may be as­so­ci­ated with a greater risk of emo­tional eat­ing. It ap­pears that some­where be­tween the ages of four and six, the ten­dency to emo­tion­ally overeat may in­crease in many chil­dren.

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