How much should toddlers be fed?


New research from Britain suggests parents are over-feeding their children, which is leading to an increased rate of childhood obesity.

The Infant and Toddler Forum commissioned the study, which saw 79 percent of parents admit to over-feeding their children.

The same amount said they were concerned about under-feeding their kids.

The study also found only a quarter of parents were worried about childhood obesity.

In Wellington, caregivers said they believe food consumption in New Zealand children is vastly different from the United Kingdom.

"I don't think they [Kiwi kids] get overfed like British children do, it seems we live outdoors and we have a better climate and more of an outdoor lifestyle," said one grandparent.

One parent said she wasn't at all concerned with the amount of food she fed her child.

"They're toddlers so the whole point is getting as much food into them as we can".

But it seems that view might be at odds with what health experts have to say.

Paediatric dietician Hanan Saleh says toddlers don't need as much food as most people think they do.

"Toddlers do need half of an adult portion, and often parents are thinking that's not enough," she says.

The research also found 36 percent of parents surveyed pacify their children with treats when they throw a tantrum.

"Mum has often got a snack in her bag, and that's probably the first thing they're going to be asking for when they are a bit whingey," says Ms Saleh.

Channel 7 Australia's Dr Andrew Rochford says kids' bodies are actually very good at regulating food intake.

"They only tend to eat as much as they need, but putting larger sizes in front of them will encourage them to eat too much," he says.

Creating habits like that could be trouble for Kiwi kids already amid a childhood obesity epidemic.

In 2014/15, 11 percent of all children aged two to 14 years were obese and more than 1400 children have been referred to a GP for support with healthy eating and activity in the last year, with that number expected to rise.