Posts Tagged ‘ toddlers ’

Toddlers’ Brand Recognition Higher Among Unhealthy Foods

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Young kids start recognizing foods according to brand names between ages 3 and 4, a new Irish study has found–and their brand recognition is higher among unhealthy foods.  Reuters has more:

Food-brand knowledge predicts what kids will ask for later, said lead author Mimi Tatlow-Golden of the School of Psychology at University College Dublin.

The study included 172 children in Ireland, ages three to five years old, a quarter of whom were from Northern Ireland, where marketing regulations differ from the rest of the country.

Just over half of the kids attended school in a disadvantaged community, according to local government and education department data.

Parents filled out questionnaires about family demographics, eating habits and children’s TV viewing alone and with others.

Researchers surveyed the kids at school one at a time, showing them nine food brand logos and product images, four belonging to healthy foods and five to less healthy foods, all of which are widely advertised in Ireland.

The researchers first asked kids if they knew the brand name of a food based on the logo, then if they knew what kind of food it was, then if they could match the brand logo to a picture of the correct food product.

Kids’ scores on the brand questions rose for all types of foods between ages three and five, the authors report in the journal Appetite. On average, kids could name about a third of the brands, name the product type of half the brands and correctly match the images of almost two-thirds of the brands.

At all ages, kids were better at recognizing the less healthy foods. Their knowledge of unhealthy foods was most strongly predicted by how much unhealthy food their parents ate, and was not predicted by TV time or their mother’s education level, the researchers found.

“We definitely couldn’t conclude that marketing doesn’t work, we just need to look beyond TV,” Sandra Jones, director of the Center for Health Initiatives at the University of Wollongong in Australia, told Reuters Health.

Some of the healthy brands in the study, like Frube flavored yogurt in a tube and Cheestring string cheese, only refer to one specific food product, whereas the unhealthy brands, which included Cadbury’s, McDonalds and Coca-Cola, produce a wide range of products, she noted. This could have skewed the results, said Jones, who was not involved in the research.

Image: Boy eating candy, via Shutterstock

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Is Shopping Good for Child Development?

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Taking a toddler shopping may actually help their social, intellectual, and even motor development, according to a new British study.  More from The Daily Mail:

The interaction between child and parent while shopping helps young people develop social skills and promotes happiness – even if a bawling toddler shows few signs of it at the time.

According to the joint study by Oxford University and the Open University, shopping trips are just as beneficial for the child’s development as painting or drawing activities.

The two universities made these conclusions after studying the results of an economic survey in Germany.

This survey looked into the daily routines and habits of 800 parents with two and three-year-olds.

It recorded higher perceived levels of happiness among the children who had taken part in activities such as arts and crafts, and shopping.

Researchers Professor Paul Anand and Dr Laurence Roope added that the more retail therapy the toddlers were exposed to, the happier they seemed to be, and the more developed their everyday skills became.

Shopping may be beneficial because it involves changes of scenery from shop to shop, which improves the child’s motor and social skills more than a sedentary activity, the report continued.

Image: Toddler shopping with father, via Shutterstock

What’s your toddler nutrition IQ?

You Know You Have A Toddler When...
You Know You Have A Toddler When...
You Know You Have A Toddler When...

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Genetics May Determine Toddlers’ Aggression

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

The extent to which toddlers exhibit aggressive behaviors like hitting, kicking, or biting may be associated as much, if not more, with genetics than environment, according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Montreal.  More from Science Daily:

“The gene-environment analyses revealed that early genetic factors were pervasive in accounting for developmental trends, explaining most of the stability and change in physical aggression, ” [researcher Eric] Lacourse said. “However, it should be emphasized that these genetic associations do not imply that the early trajectories of physical aggression are set and unchangeable. Genetic factors can always interact with other factors from the environment in the causal chain explaining any behavior.”

Over the past 25 years, research on early development of physical aggression has been highly influenced by social learning theories that suggest the onset and development of physical aggression is mainly determined by accumulated exposure to aggressive role models in the social environment and the media. However, the results of studies on early childhood physical aggression indicate that physical aggression starts during infancy and peaks between the ages of 2 and 4. Although for most children the use of physical aggression initiated by the University of Montreal team peaks during early childhood, these studies also show that there are substantial differences in both frequency at onset and rate of change of physical aggression due to the interplay of genetic and environmental factors over time. Genetically informed studies of disruptive behavior and different forms of aggression across the lifespan generally conclude that genetic factors account for approximately 50% of the variance in the population.

Lacourse and his colleagues posited and tested three general patterns regarding the developmental roles of genetic and environmental factors in physical aggression. First, the most consensual and general point of view is that both sources of influence are ubiquitous and involved in the stability of physical aggression. Second, a “genetic set point” model suggests a single set of genetic factors could account for the level of physical aggression across time. A third pattern labeled ‘genetic maturation’ postulates new sources of genetic and environmental influences with age. “According to the genetic maturation hypothesis, new environmental contributions to physical aggression could be of short duration in contrast to genetic factors,” Lacourse explained.

Image: Aggressive toddler, via Shutterstock

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Toddlers, Criminals May Share Brain Chemistry

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

The “terrible twos” may actually have much in common with the way the brains of an 18-year-old violent criminal work, especially with regards to how they manage aggressive impulses.  More on recent research on this topic from The New York Times:

In other words, dangerous criminals don’t turn violent. They just stay that way.

These findings have been replicated in multiple large studies by several researchers on several continents.

“It’s highly reliable,” said Brad J. Bushman, a psychology professor at Ohio State University and an expert on child violence, who noted that toddlers use physical aggression even more than people in violent youth gangs do. “Thank God toddlers don’t carry weapons.”

The son of a professional football player, Dr. Tremblay played football himself and was fascinated with its regulated version of extreme physical aggression. After college he did social work in a prison and saw firsthand how seldom such programs changed violent criminals. By the time the violent child gets big, it’s often too late.

So he trained his focus earlier and earlier, and learned that the younger the children, the more they whacked each other. With adolescents, physically aggressive acts can be counted in incidents per month; with toddlers, he said, “you count the number per hour.”

In most children, though, this is as bad as it gets. The rate of violence peaks at 24 months, declines steadily through adolescence and plunges in early adulthood. But as Dr. Tremblay and Daniel S. Nagin, a criminologist at Carnegie Mellon University, found in a pivotal 1999 study, a troublesome few do not follow this pattern.

The study tracked behavior in 1,037 mostly disadvantaged Quebec schoolboys from kindergarten through age 18. The boys fell into four distinct trajectories of physical aggression.

The most peaceable 20 percent, a “no problem” group, showed little physical aggression at any age; two larger groups showed moderate and high rates of aggression as preschoolers. In these three groups violence fell through childhood and adolescence, and dropped to almost nothing when the boys reached their 20s.

A fourth group, about 5 percent, peaked higher during toddlerhood and declined far more slowly. Their curve was more plateau than hill.

As they moved into late adolescence and young adulthood, their aggression grew ever more dangerous, and it tailed off late. At age 17 they were four times as physically aggressive as the moderate group and committed 14 times as many criminal infractions. It’s these chronically violent individuals, Dr. Tremblay says, who are responsible for most violent crime.

(These numbers are all for boys and young men; girls’ physical aggression declines in arcs similar to those of boys, but at sharply lower levels.)

Image: Angry boy, via Shutterstock

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Cutting Bottles Doesn’t Stop Toddler Weight Gain

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Reducing the use of bottles with toddlers who are 12-15 months old won’t help stop them from gaining weight, even thought bottles use has been linked to weight issues in toddlers of that age.  Reuters has more on the findings of a new study:

Doctors recommend introducing sippy cups at six months and weaning toddlers off bottles completely by the time they’re 15 months old.

But 20 percent of two-year-olds and 10 percent of three-year-olds in the U.S. continue to use bottles, often drinking five bottles of whole milk every day, researchers said.

“Bottles can become a vessel for extra, or ‘stealth’ calories, because they are often used indiscriminately. For example, while in a stroller, or to put a child to bed,” Karen Bonuck told Reuters Health in an email. She led the new study at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York.

“Before you know it, a child can take in 150 calories of whole milk in a bottle on top of their regular diet,” Bonuck said.

The researchers wanted to see if giving parents educational materials as part of a program called ‘Proud to Be Bottle Free’ and a sippy cup would reduce the number of bottles kids used and the calories they consumed.

They enrolled 300 pairs of parents and 12-month-olds at two Bronx Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) sites.

To be eligible for the study, children had to be consuming more than two bottles of milk or juice every day. The participants were randomly split into two groups: a bottle-weaning group that received the materials and sippy cup and a comparison group that did not.

The research team checked in with parents over the next year to find out how many bottles kids were consuming every day, as well as what else they ate and drank.

One hundred and four parent and child pairs completed the study.

After three months, bottle usage had dropped from 4.6 bottles per day to two bottles per day among kids in the bottle-weaning program. There was a smaller drop in the comparison group, from 4.4 bottles per day to 2.7, on average.

Sippy cup usage increased more in the bottle-weaning group.

By one year, toddlers in both groups were averaging about one bottle per day.

Kids in the bottle-weaning program consumed slightly fewer calories – 1,090 calories per day, on average, versus 1,186 among comparison children. But the difference was small enough that it could have been due to chance.

The program did not lower toddlers’ chances of being overweight, according to results published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

“At first we were surprised that there was no effect upon overweight status,” Bonuck said, “but looking at the data more closely, this seems partially attributable to the substitution of sippy cups for bottles in the intervention group.”

She thought the program’s benefits might also have been clearer had fewer families left the study early.

“Had we achieved our optimal sample size, and included messages about sippy cups, I would suspect this would have affected our overweight status outcomes,” Bonuck said.

She said the advice to wean toddlers off bottles by 15 months should be extended to sippy cups.

Image: Girl with bottle, via Shutterstock

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