Home / Health / Leann Birch, a scientist who came to the aid of picky eaters and their parents, dies at the age of 72

Leann Birch, a scientist who came to the aid of picky eaters and their parents, dies at the age of 72

In the universe of everyday concerns for parents of small children, eating time is high on the list: do they eat too much or too little? Why do you invite yourself to a snack, then sit and play with your food during dinner? And how can you persuade her to eat her peas and carrots?

Leann L. Birch, a developmental psychologist who died of cancer on May 26, at the age of 72, devoted more than four decades to studying how children eat, thereby revolutionizing the field in which they once lived largely limited to questions of nutrition. She showed that healthy food is far more complex than the intake of calories and vitamins ̵

1; and not necessarily the daily struggle of many parents.

"Every Parent Wants His Child to Grow and Grow Well, and I Think When It Comes In terms of nutrition, many parents fundamentally understand what a healthy diet looks like," said Jennifer Orlet Fisher, a former student of Dr. Ing. Birch and deputy director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in an interview.

] "But getting children to teach children how to eat healthy foods is another challenge on the whole," she added. Dr. Birch's research provided the first "scientific basis for understanding how children develop likes and dislikes about food, and how parents can truly support the experiences that help children develop a healthy palate."

Through carefully crafted studies, Dr. Mistaken eating strategies that parents often use. This includes exhorting the children to clean their plates or eating five more bites, offering a dessert as a reward and restricting the children's diet to buttered noodles, chicken fingers and other mild main products of the restaurant's so-called children's menu

as she emphasized , babies are born who know how to regulate the consumption of food. They eat when they are hungry and stop when they feel full. Your palate is also a tabula rasa. Only when children grow up and take the influence of their parents and other people in their environment, they learn to like some foods such as sweets and others like not like lobes.

Dr. Birch and the pediatricians she influenced used these key insights to spur on parents to shovel more and more food into their children's mouths.

"There should be a sharing of responsibility over who is responsible for child nutrition, even as preschoolers," she said. "It is the parents' responsibility to have a healthy selection and many tasting opportunities But it is the child's job to decide how much to eat. "

Such an arrangement, she admitted," makes many parents nervous. "

It showed that children instinctively know how many calories they need and allow self-regulation to produce healthier eaters in the long run In an experiment, children were given either a low-calorie or high-calorie yoghurt before being offered the lunch of their choice. which led to about the same calorie consumption.

Dr. Birch offered the parents picky food He used the saying that mothers and fathers could present to their children in a different context: If at first you do not succeed, try again.

Children, they said, are inclined to resist new tastes. But repeated exposures – sometimes requiring eight to fifteen attempts, she has shown – are far beyond animal crackers. The young study participants learned to enjoy exotic things like lychee, jackfruit and papaya.

Dr. Birch advised parents not to cheer too much when their children finished a serving of vegetables so they would not suggest that eating healthy foods is a chore. For the same reason, she advised against extending desserts as a bribe. Still, bans on sugary or fatty foods were effective, she said; they just made a forbidden fruit out of the desired pleasure.

Birch's work gives an encouraging message to the parents.

"Without the pressure to actually consume it," she told NPR, "children will normally learn to eat many new things. "

Leann Elsie Traub was born on June 25, 1946 in Owosso, Michigan. Her father was an engineer and her mother was a housewife.

She grew up mainly in New York, Southern California and received a bachelor's degree in psychology from California State University in Long Beach in 1971. She graduated from the University of Michigan, where she received a master's degree in 1973 and a doctorate in psychology in 1975.

] DR. Birch taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, before moving to Pennsylvania State University in 1992, where she was the director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center. Since 2014, she has taught at the University of Georgia, where she led the Obesity Initiative.

Dr. Birch promoted interventions to help parents teach healthy eating habits from childhood – when many mothers and fathers use food as a general-purpose sedative – when eating disorders could occur. She was credited with leading the fight against the growing scourge of childhood obesity.

"Their work, groundbreaking in the laboratory, is arguably the most successful approach to obesity prevention in early life today." Ian Paul, pediatrician and professor at Penn State College of Medicine, wrote in an e-mail.

Dr. Birch's middle initial stood for Lipps, the last name of her first husband, from whom she had divorced. Her second marriage to David Birch also ended in divorce.

The survivors include her 35-year-old husband Karl M. Newell of Ocean Isle Beach, NC; and her two children Charlotte K. Newell from New York City and Spencer H. Newell from Washington. Her daughter said, Dr. Birch had died in a hospice in Durham, NC, and the cause was cancer.

Dr. Birch colleagues found that every parent who had ever gone to the pediatrician to visit a child, and a bulletin, continued to offer the children new vegetables to benefit their children.

"It's hard, I think there was ever another way to think about child nutrition," wrote Alison Ventura, a former student of Drs. Birch and a professor at California Polytechnic State University, in an e-mail.

I am also thankful that I learned everything about feeding children from their two children, "she continued. "My boys are incredibly healthy, great eaters and vegetables! I can honestly say that my time in her lab, which I learned from her and her research, has helped make me the mother I am today. "

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