Science Says Rewarding Kids With Food Can Lead to Emotional Eating Later in Life


What works for Fido might not be best when it comes to humans.

According to a new study, giving children food-related rewards or punishments can lead to emotional overeating later in life. According to Science Daily, such "overly controlling feeding practices" can teach children to use food as a crutch to rely on when dealing with emotional issues.

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"Eating patterns can usually be tracked across life, so those who learn to use food as a tool to deal with emotional distress early are much more likely to follow a similar pattern of eating later on in adult life,"  Dr. Claire Farrow, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Aston University and the study's lead author concluded, Science Daily reported. 

"Learning more about how we can teach children to manage their food intake in a healthy way can help us to develop best practice advice and guidelines for families and those involved in feeding children."


The study evaluated students between the ages of 3 and 5, specifically looking at eating habits. When the children were compared between the ages of 5 and 7, researchers found that kids who were rewarded or punished with food at a younger age were more likely to indulge in snack foods when they becomes stressed. 

While Farrow and her team conceded that more research was required, the study shows that the relationship between humans and foods is one of the most primal and forms early in life.