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Bite-sized insights on the human condition.

The Nurturer's Curse

Even at a time when weight-gain and obesity are becoming increasingly prevalent, numerous kids are subject to the nasty habit of being force-fed by their parents. In this article, I examine some of the negative side effects of being force-fed and how parents can get rid of this nasty habit. Read More

This is not true. My dad

This is not true. My dad shoved food down my throat and I will eat anything now. It kept me from being a picky wimp

I agree with Jared. My mother

I agree with Jared. My mother cooked one meal for the whole family and usually with lots of vegetables. We had to eat that because that was what was available to eat. Period. If we didn't finish something, it was simply put away and then brough back to our plates at the next meal. No food got wasted.

I don't think it traumatized me. Quite the oppossite, in fact: after a period of fast food indulgence in my late teens, I consider myself a conscious and healthy eater now. I will try anything at least once, stay away from processed foods and in general value the gift of nourishment.

That is how I am raising my kids, and in my observation they eat far more vegetables than most kids around us, and will try things at least once. We do struggle, but they now that food is valuable and that we eat how we eat at our house.

Interesting!

Hi, Jared and Xihmai,

Thanks for sharing your perspectives on this. I based my article on research studies and the idea that force-feeding is bad is so well-accepted among the academic community in nutrition science that the scientists wouldn't think that there is any condition under which food should be forced down kids' throats.

Is it possible that you might have had an even healthier attitude towards food had you not been force-fed? Something to think about.

Meanwhile, here are some of the references on which I based my article:

1. Jacobsen, Maryanne, blog post titled, “What forcing kids to eat looks 20 years later,” http://www.raisehealthyeaters.com/2012/07/what-forcing-kids-to-eat-looks...

Jacobsen’s blog, raisehealthyeaters.com, is a treasure trove of valuable information on instilling healthy food habits (and attitudes towards food) in children.

2. Batsell, Brown, Ansfield, and Paschall (2002), “’You will eat all of that!’: A retrospective analysis of force consumption episodes,” Appetite, 38(3), 211-219.

3. The char (CNN blog post) titled, “Pushing kids to eat may cause obesity later,” http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/22/pushing-kids-to-eat-may-cause-o...

4. Kidshealth blog post titled, “Toddlers at the table: avoiding power struggles,” http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_center/healthy_eating/toddler_mea...

5. Wardle, Cooke, Gibson, Sapochnik, Sheiham, Lawson (2003), “Increasing children’s acceptance of vegetables; a randomized trial of parent-led exposure,” Appetite, Apr; 40(2) : 155-62.

6. Tanofsky-Kraff, Haynos, Kottler, Yanovski, Yanovski, “Laboratory-based studies of eating among children and adolescents,” Curr Nutr Food Sci. 2007;3(1):55-74.

My mom told me the story of

My mom told me the story of when my brother was a toddler he was skinny and wouldn't eat as much as the other kids and that she worried she was a bad mother (she was only 19 when she had him). She spoke to my brother's pediatrician who told her it's ok if my brother is skinny, he's healthy and he knows when and how much to eat by himself (this was over 30 years ago). So my brother and I were pretty slim growing up, but we were healthy. I guess slimness was in our genes. My mom never forced us to eat anything and I think I have pretty healthy eating habits now that I'm an adult.

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Raj Raghunathan, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor affiliated with the Department of Marketing at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business.

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