New study examines toddler food choices

Monday, 5 March 2007

South Australian mothers and their toddlers are needed for a University of Adelaide study to determine how parental feeding practices influence their child's food choices.

PhD Psychology student Nadia Corsini is seeking up to 120 participants for a questionnaire and observational study to assess how parents manage their toddler's diet.

"Many popular children's foods are energy dense and nutrient poor. Our previous research shows that parents use a variety of strategies to control their toddler's consumption of these highly palatable foods. What we don't know is how these different approaches influence the child's response to these foods," Ms Corsini says.

Toddlers taking part in the study will be exposed to a range of healthy and unhealthy snack foods. They will be free to choose food without their mother's involvement.

Mothers will complete a questionnaire which will reveal their attitude towards snacks and sweet foods, the rules they set regarding their toddler's consumption of these foods, and their confidence in their ability to manage their child's diet.

"In Australia the prevalence of childhood obesity has doubled in the last 20 years, highlighting the role of early life factors in this trend," Ms Corsini says. "A recent study of children aged 16 to 24 months in Australia found that sweet biscuits, savoury biscuits and potato crisps were consumed by 67%, 31% and 22% of children, respectively. Therefore, parental management of these foods in a child's diet is an important issue."

To be eligible for the observational study, toddlers must be aged between 22 months and 30 months, have no serious food allergies or congenital or metabolic abnormalities. Children born prematurely with a low birth weight will also be excluded from the study.

For more information, or to volunteer for the study, please phone Nadia Corsini on 8303 8817 or email

Ms Corsini is undertaking her PhD in conjunction with CSIRO Human Nutrition under the supervision of Dr Lisa Kettler from the School of Psychology.


Contact Details

Nadia Corsini
PhD candidate
School of Psychology
University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 8817
Mobile: 0407 794 422

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762