This little-known effect of boredom on children

This little-known effect of boredom on children

Boredom would have a sneaky effect on the youngest, little known to parents: it pushes them to eat more. An observation confirmed by Alexandra Murcier, dietitian nutritionist.

What do our children do when they are bored? Do they develop their imagination? Do they stimulate their creativity? What if they indulge in a bad habit? A study of 191 children revealed that children eat more when they are bored…

It starts from the age of four

English researchers from Aston University in Birmingham surveyed 119 parents to find out their children’s eating habits and temperament.

These children aged four and five also participated in small scenarios of daily life during which their mood was assessed. One situation in particular was annoying. Children were given a standard meal and asked to indicate when they were full.

79% more calories

Results: Researchers noticed that children, as young as four years old, tend to eat more when they are bored. They quantified this excess: children consume 79% more calories. Specifically, children who were bored consumed 94 more calories, while children in a neutral mood only consumed 53.

At the same time, parents also explained that they used food to soothe their children’s emotions and that a very emotional child could eat up to five times more calories.

Don’t make food a compensation

For Dr. Rachel Stone, who led the study, “if children consume that many extra calories during a single boring laboratory-induced scenario (which lasted four minutes), the potential for excess caloric intake in response to boredom over a day, week, or year is potentially very important, given that boredom is a commonly felt emotion among children”.

However, she also reminds us that boredom is an emotion necessary for the child’s creativity and does not recommend that parents avoid it. On the other hand, she believes that this feeling should not push parents or children to turn to food.

NO to diets, YES to WW!

Avoid sugary industrial biscuits in favor of old-fashioned snacks

When interviewed, Alexandra Murcier, dietitian nutritionist, shares this observation. “Some children, when they are bored, will turn to food because it is something easily accessible, it can also be offered by parents to manage frustrations, but this leads to bad eating behaviors which can persist , adulthood”.

For the specialist, television advertisements also play a role in making children want to eat more. “Parents must establish a framework by limiting access to food during meal times and at snack time, relying on homemade cakes, the quantity of sugar of which has been limited, or even bread with butter and jam or with chocolate or why not cheese” she advises.