Here’s some practical advice to parents who are concerned about their children’s weight:

1.  Serve them meals on smaller plates.
2.  Pay attention to what they watch on TV.
3.  Make sure they get adequate sleep at night.

These suggestions are based on three new studies in April’s Pediatrics, released online today.

Nationally, about a third of kids and adolescents ages 2 to 19 are obese or overweight, government statistics show. Children are classified as overweight or obese based on where they fall on body mass index (BMI) charts, a measure based on height and weight.

In a study of 41 first-graders, researchers found that when given large, adult-size dinner plates and bowls, students served themselves larger portions of food and consumed almost 50% of the extra calories they put on their plates.

On average, 80% of the kids served themselves 90 calories more at lunch when using adult-sized dinner plates than when using child-sized plates (roughly the size of an adult salad plate). And when the kids said they liked the meal, they served themselves an average of 104.2 calories more.

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