Emotional and cultural factors are of exceptional importance in determining food intake. The deeply ingrained pattern of three meals daily may be the cultural factor most open to criticism.
In experimental animals, and probably in the human, established nutritional habits are particularly potent factors in determining food intake. Proper nutritional education in early childhood may establish patterns of food selection that will be helpful in avoiding specific deficiencies and gross excesses in later life.
Appetite may prove adequate for selection of a nutritionally acceptable diet under certain circumstances but selection of food on the basis of nutritional principles is more reliable and is to be recommended.
A knowledge of normal variations in food intake in relation to age, sex, environmental temperature, and caloric expenditure is beneficial in interpreting the feeding behavior of children. Complaints by parents that their children have "poor appetites," are commonly based on a misconception regarding normal patterns of food intake.
Vitamins, iron, and other specific nutrients act as appetite stimulants only in the presence of deficiency of the particular nutrient.
- Copyright © 1964 by the American Academy of Pediatrics