People, not least parents, have becomes concerned about the increasing proportion of obese and overweight children in wealthier countries. It has even been called an epidemic. Can biology and anthropology deepen our understanding of childhood feeding and suggest possible solutions? Tina Moffat certainly thinks so. She has studied how children are nourished in Japan, Nepal, France and her native Canada. Her book – Small Bites – rounds up the evidence and shares several important observations. Neophobia – trying very small quantities of novel foods until your body is certain they won’t harm you – is a behaviour common to all humans (and other omnivores). Picky eating, which terrifies parents in certain cultures, becomes entrenched by being rewarded. And school lunches demonstrate what society thinks makes a proper meal and the value it places on good childhood nutrition.
- Tina Moffat is an Associate professor at McMaster University in Canada. Her book Small Bites: Biocultural Dimension of Children’s Food and Nutrition was published earlier this year by University of British Columbia Press.
- The USDA report I mentioned is Added Sugars in School Meals and Competitive Foods.
- Transcript right here.
- Banner photo assembled from a set created by a catering company around 2015. Other photos from TastEd, a charity that is doing wonderful work to educate children in the UK about food.