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Smaller plates may be a tool to curtail childhood obesity

Growing up, my mom would always tell me and my sister to finish everything on our plates. To ensure that we would, she gave us smaller plates - less food, less waste. Turns out my mom was probably on to something: An ongoing study here shows that using smaller dishware and making other environmental changes in homes, like avoiding meals in front of the TV, can lead to weight loss for obese children.

The study, led by by Thomas Robinson, MD, MPH, a Stanford pediatrician and director of the Center for Healthy Weight at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, involved 160 families enrolled in a six-month family-based behavioral treatment program. At the end of the six months, the researchers found that 85 percent of the children in the study had reduced their weight by at least 10 percent.

In an article on today, Robinson explains why children tend to eat and drink more when using larger dishware or glasses:

You eat with your eyes more than with your stomach. People are generally pretty poor at estimating how much they are eating When you are distracted while eating you miss recognizing the normal satiety cues when you are full.

Robinson also mentions an added bonus of the study, noting that the parents benefited from the environmental and behavioral changes. “A large portion of the parents also lost weight even though our focus was on the kids," he said.

Photo by Ryan Boren

Previously Obesity prevention in high-risk kids - challenging but worth it, Obesity in kids: A growing and dangerous epidemic, Stanford pediatrician discusses developing effective program to curtail childhood obesity and Major effort launched to prevent, treat childhood obesity

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