Loughborough expert to give London talks on children’s fussy eating

Parents, carers and professionals in London are to be given advice on how to combat fussy eating among children by a Loughborough University expert.

Dr Emma Haycraft, a leading authority on children’s eating behaviours, will give talks and conduct Q&A sessions at two events entitled ‘Feed Your Children Well’ on Thursday, November 6.

The first is at the Half Moon Theatre in White Horse Road (10am), and the second at the JW3 Community Centre in Finchley Road (8pm).

Emma was invited to co-deliver the events by Riverside Cares, a London organisation that provides childcare solutions for families and offers accredited training courses for parents and people working in caring professions.

Riverside Cares’ co-founder Jill Wheatcroft, a lecturer in child health at City University, will also take part in the sessions for parents, caregivers and professionals who work with children.

Between 40 and 50 per cent of parents have reported problems with fussy eaters, but Emma says the problem is even more widespread.

She said: “We know from anecdotal evidence that it’s bigger than that. It’s something that so many people experience, children eating a limited diet, or being faddy.

“They might eat carrots one week and the next week refuse point blank. It can be quite dispiriting for parents.”

Emma is a member of the renowned Loughborough University Centre for Research into Eating Disorders (LUCRED), which has produced a Child Feeding Guide website and a free mobile app, which is available via the website www.childfeedingguide.co.uk.

The ‘Feed Your Children Well’ sessions are spin-offs from the Child Feeding Guide and explore common feeding pitfalls as well as providing strategies to deal with difficult eating behaviours.

Emma, a senior lecturer in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, says the strategies work and are invaluable for parents who want to promote healthier eating and prevent their children from becoming overweight.

She said: “If fussy eating persists it can become a problem.

“Where it can be a major problem is if a child says, ‘I’m not eating this healthy food’, and the parent relents and gives the child whatever they will eat, usually junk food, which is high in fat and sugar.

“If that happens too often it can have an adverse impact on a child’s weight.

“We are trying to help parents so that fussy eating doesn’t become a long term issue. Eating habits that are established early on in life track through to adulthood.

“If you are a young child who eats a good, varied diet the chances are that will continue throughout life.

“We are targeting the parents but it’s the children’s health that is the primary outcome, instilling healthy behaviours, and trying to prevent obesity developing by having a child who only eats chips, pasta and bread.”

Emma says one of the common pitfalls parents fall into is forcing children to finish their meal.

She said: “If parents do that consistently, children will learn to over-ride their internal fullness cues, which can lead to them becoming overweight.

“Although well intentioned, forcing children to eat can be counter-productive and have adverse consequences.”

To book places at the events visit the following pages on the Riverside Cares website:

Half Moon Theatre: www.riversidetrainingcompany.co.uk/product/feed-your-children-wellmorning-event

JW3 Community Centre: www.riversidetrainingcompany.co.uk/product/feed-your-children-well-at-jw3/

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