So, I was thinking... Most of us here feel that feeding babies on a schedule and insisting that they eat a particular amount, rather than feeding when they're hungry as much as they want, is bad because it teaches them to ignore their bodies' cues in favor of following externally imposed rules. Well, MrBecca and I were talking about this and how it continues once children can feed themselves: "No snack now, you'll spoil your dinner!" and "Clean your plate!" are both ways of saying, "Ignore what your body tells you, and eat when and what and how much I tell you to eat."
Suddenly it clicked in my mind with something I learned in a health psychology class: On average, overweight people are more likely to eat in response to external cues than are normal-weight people. External cues are things like being offered food, seeing a clock that indicates it's mealtime, seeing an ad for food, etc., while internal cues are things like a growling stomach!
Could it be that children raised with rigidly scheduled feedings are more likely to be overweight later in life? It seems logical, given that they've been taught to ignore their internal cues and obey external cues. Once away from the parent who puts healthy balanced meals in front of them 3 times a day and allows no other eating, they'd have no defenses against the TV saying "Hurry into Wendy's and get a burger!", the vending machine offering a nice cold 300 liquid calories, the co-worker eating a candy bar who "makes" them want one too, the endless variety of convenience foods marketed to allow people to eat in every possible situation....
I'm not saying this is the only cause of obesity; certainly there are many factors. I'm also not saying that anybody is truly helpless to resist unnecessary eating, or that resisting is never a problem for demand-fed babies. But I think it might be another good reason to respond to baby's cues instead of forcing a schedule. What do the rest of you think?