“You’d better finish what’s on your plate or your aren’t getting any dessert!”

We all remember hearing that familiar phrase as kids while sitting at the dinner table, staring at those now-cold brussel sprouts that refuse to disappear. As it turns out, the combined findings from two new studies show that pressuring children to eat everything they are given, and denying access to some desired foods, are both factors that could form unhealthy eating habits and increase the risk of obesity later in life.

The studies monitored how the parents of adolescents handled the dietary intake of their children and found that parents who restricted access to junk food typically had overweight or obese children while parents who made their children eat even after their kids said they were full had children of an average weight.

However, the studies show that both of these practices could harm children as they grow older by altering their normal eating habits. Children who were restricted from eating certain foods typically over ate that item when it was made available to them.

Meanwhile, it was found that making children clean their plates “…takes away from a child’s ability to respond naturally to their own hunger,” said researcher and lead author Katie Loth. ā€œInstead, (it) encourages them to respond to cues in their environment which can lead to unhealthy weight gain over time.ā€

The study authors recommend that parents be role models for healthy eating habits by making good food choices and setting the example of an appropriate eating habits.