MOTHERS who follow strict diets could be putting their children's growth at risk by restricting their food intake, too, warns a report published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. It found that where there is no known organic cause for a child's failure to grow at the normal rate, mothers were more likely to be following a restrictive diet compared with the mothers of children of normal weight.

Fifty per cent of these mothers substantially restricted their child's intake of sweet foods, in spite of the child's problems with gaining weight, while nearly a third restricted intake of what they saw as 'unhealthy' foods such as nuts or meat. A small number of parents are excluding healthy foods from their children's diets because of excessive concern over weight gain, say the authors, from the Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Oxford.