Let them eat cake!
Yet another study has now added weight (no pun intended) to SIRC's warnings on the dangers of restricting children's access to 'unhealthy' foods. According to a Reuters report on a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, restricting the diets of young girls has, yet again, been shown to increase their consumption of 'forbidden' foods while also increasing their sense of guilt and shame about eating such foods – a classic recipe for the development of eating disorders.
SIRC has been highlighting the dangers of over-zealous promotion of 'healthy eating' for some time (see The dangers of teenage dieting, The hidden dangers of policing school food, Dieting damage, Part of the problem, etc.) and trying to persuade the government to adopt a more rational approach to policy and communication on nutrition issues. The Food Standards Agency has taken the same line, and avoided creating a 'forbidden-fruit effect' in its latest recommendations on school meals (see School meals: a new diet of reason). But parents should also be warned that restricting children's access to snack foods, will, as the authors of this latest study conclude, "promote the type of eating behaviour that parents explicitly intend to avoid in their use of restriction". The moral of the story? If you want your daughter to grow up with a healthy attitude to food and a positive self-image: let her eat cake.