One in 10 parents give their children adult-sized food portions, a new study finds. The habit fuels obesity crisis among young children.

The survey of 1,000 parents also discovered that 79 percent of 1- to 4-year-olds are often being fed more than the recommended food portions for their age.

Findings suggested that many parents do not realize that packaged foods and many ready-to-eat meals come in adult-sized portions. The Infant and Toddler Forum (ITF) has released a warning to parents that overfeeding or giving children adult-sized meals are increasing the latter's chances of developing childhood obesity.

In the ITF-commissioned study, researchers asked parents to look at food photos with various portion sizes. Then they were asked to select the portion size they normally give to their children as well as how often they give kids particular food items. The food photos in the study included typical snacks such as cheese and oatcakes and meals like spaghetti bolognese and cheese sandwiches.

In total, 10 percent of the parents gave their children snack sizes that were too large. Among the photos of oatcakes and cheese alone, 27 percent of the parents chose the portion sizes that were too large.

About 71 percent of the parents regularly give their children serving sizes of crisps that were beyond the recommended amount. In fact, 45 percent of parents gave their kids crisps up to three times weekly, 17 percent offered it up to six times while 6 percent gave them to kids daily. Only 20 percent stuck with the once-a-week routine.

In terms of fruit juices and squash, 65 percent of parents regularly gave them to their kids. About 24 percent gave kids an entire pack of sweet jelly as treats, and that's three times the recommended amount suitable for small children.

Ironically, 25 percent said they were worried that their children will suffer from weight gain in the future. About 73 percent admitted they are concerned that their children might not be eating enough.

"However, portion size is critical. It's one of the main ways in which, as parents, we can inadvertently override children's self-regulation systems," said child and clinical psychologist and ITF member Gill Harris.

Harris added that majority of toddlers are "naturally better" in regulating their food consumption compared with adults and older children. Toddlers often don't overeat because they eat only what they need.

How much food parents offer their kids determines how much the toddlers will eat. And in general, early life eating habits tend to persevere.

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