Obese Kids Commonly Overeat, Even When Not Hungry [Study]

Obese kids consume 34 percent more calories from snacking even after a meal and eat when they’re not hungry compared to their siblings of average weight.

Eating that much more food over time leads to excess weight gain, according a study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition via Medical News Today. Body weight and obesity have become a big issue in the US over the past several years. Over one third of Americans are of normal weight while 35.8 percent are overweight and 27.6 percent are considered obese, according to a recent Gallup report.

The study: In short, within 47 same-sex sibling pairs, obese kids were more tempted by snacking after meals even if they had eaten until full. Average-weight siblings ate less of their dinner when given an appetizer than their overweight siblings, and the obese siblings didn’t lessen the amount of food they consumed at dinner enough to offset the calories taken in by the appetizer.

Dr. Tanja Kral, the head author explained:

“The overweight and obese siblings showed an impaired ability to adjust for calorie differences and consumed more snacks even when satiated. These findings suggest some children are less responsive to their internal cues of hunger and fullness and will continue eating even when full.”

The inability may be hereditary and compounded by a bad environment. Full siblings had more consistent eating habits than half: In other words, the obese family may observe a poor diet unanimously while the average-weight family may observe better eating habits. When offered sweets and other bad-for-yous, the obese kids tended to eat an average of 93 calories more than their siblings. Over time, this leads to obesity.

“These findings may represent a behavioral inclination for obesity in children. Future studies should test whether teaching children to focus on internal satiety cues and structuring the home food environment in a healthy way may prevent at-risk children from overeating,” Dr. Kral concluded.