Why extroverted kids overeat
It stands to reason that children who are outgoing tend to take in more of their world. Taken a step further, according to recent research, this can translate into children taking in a greater amount of food, which may lead to overeating.
The study findings, published in late October in the journal PLOS ONE, revealed that extroverted children ate more than their introverted counterparts. When these same children served themselves, the study also found that they consumed 23.2 percent more than when an adult served them.
Participants included 18 elementary school children, ranging in age from 6 to 12. Over a period of four days, breakfast was served to participants. During two of the days, an adult served the children in a large bowl (16 ounces) and were asked how much cereal and milk they wanted, and the adults served them accordingly.
The other two days the children served themselves. A hidden scale measured how much cereal and milk each child served him or herself.
Personality types of each child were determined by four teachers and counselors rating each child’s degree of introversion and extroversion on a scale of 1 to 9. From this, researchers used the average of these scores to identify each child as an extrovert or introvert. Based on the scale measurements, the serving sizes for introverts and extroverts were then compared.
When serving themselves, the size of the bowl, the study found, had a greater impact on extroverted kids than their introverted peers. The extroverts served 33.1 percent more breakfast in the large bowl than the introverts who served themselves 5.6 percent more.
Researchers concluded that extroverted kids were more influenced by the external cue of bowl size more than introverted kids. However, they added, this only benefits introverted kids when they serve themselves. When both introverts and extroverts are served by adults, both requested more cereal to fill up the large bowl.
Angela Malinowski, senior clinical dietitian/bariatric services dietitian for Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., feels the study requires more research.
She agrees that it’s still important for your child to make his or her own choices, and providing a smaller bowl will help keep portion sizes in check. However, if you’re concerned about excess weight, she says, “As a parent, the goal should be to provide healthy foods from each food group, limit screen time and encourage an active lifestyle to prevent obesity.”
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