Force-feeding is dangerous to children, United Nations Children Education Fund’s (UNICEF’s) Nutritionist, Dr Ada Ezeogu, has said.
Ezeogu, who disclosed this at UNCEF’s Akure Office in Ondo State, said force-feeding, which means putting food in the throat of a child forcefully ‘’is dangerous and can either make the child be under-fed or choked with food or can lead to the child’s death”.
Ezeogu said though some mothers, who practise force-feeding have good intentions, the act does more harm than good.
“While most parents, especially mothers, who force-feed their children do so to ensure that their children get enough nourishment, it does more harm than good. Rather than force or threaten a child to eat, it is up to you to get creative and find ways to make the child look forward to meal times. Not every child has a large appetite and as long as your child is healthy and growing well, there’s no need to force-feed,” she explained.
Highlighting some of the disadvantages of force-feeding, Ezeogu said when a child is forced to eat, it could be very traumatic mentally. The child would link food with anxiety and that could be counter productive. Such a child might end up intensely disliking food and meal times. This, in turn, might create a long-term unhealthy relationship with food and might even develop into eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia,”she said.
While Bulimia nervosa, also known as bulimia, is an eating disorder characterised by binge eating, followed by purging. Binge eating refers to eating a large amount of food in a short time. Purging refers to attempts to get rid of the food consumed. This may be done by vomiting while anorexia is an eating disorder characterised by low weight, fear of gaining weight and a strong desire to be thin, resulting in food restriction. Force-feeding affects a child’s psychology.
“The child may experience injury as the tongue or upper lip may be injured accidentally by the plate or object being used during the force-feeding. Also, a semi-circle of finger tip bruises round the mouth of the baby can occur when the feeder forces the baby’s mouth open by depressing both cheeks.
“In the same way, when force-feeding an infant, it’s easy for fragments of food to get into the child’s lungs, not to forget suffocation. Food going the wrong way in a child, especially when force-feeding breastfeeding, can be underlying cause of cold, cough, catarrh or diarrhea,’’ she added.
Explaining why a child may refuse food, Ezeogu said “it could be that the child was not hungry, did not like the food or was sick, thereby having low appetite, do not like the way he is being fed.
‘’So, the best way out is to make a delicious diet and feed slowly; never in a hurry, but playfully, consistently, with a clean teaspoon and a small cup, if a baby or in an attractive colourful plate for a toddler,” she said.
The Nation News