Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Do Parents' Eating Habits Influence Their Kids?

I just finished reading a brief article in today's NYTimes, Nutrition: Parents' Healthy Diet Has Little Influence, which reported that researchers found little resemblance between parents' healthy diets and their children's food intake. One of the study co-authors was quoted as saying, “This suggests that parents don’t play as large a role as people have thought in their children’s diet."

Something about that quote rubbed me the wrong way. I have not read the full study myself, but from the description of it, it sounds like reports of food intake and subsequent analysis of the nutrients in those foods, were the measures used in the study. I'm wondering if there were any measures of parenting feeding practices. Did the researchers look at any measures of how the parents were eating and how they were feeding their children? Were these families eating together?

I consistently recommend that parents be good role models for their children, with regard to eating and many other variables. But being a good role model implies more than just the food that you eat. It also implies the when and how of eating. And being a good role model is not enough to raise a healthy eater. Children do learn by observation, but they also need direct intervention and guidance. So eating well yourself is a start, but you also need to learn effective parenting practices to raise successful eaters.


  1. I agree that parents do indeed play a huge role in their kids' diet. Being a good role model and having healthy food available in the house as well as eating together as a family have all been shown to improve the family diet. It does not guarantee that a child will eat a healthy diet but it sure does increase the odds!

  2. As a parent our behavior is always influencing our children"Monkey See,Monkey Do".If we want our children to develop good eating habits then we must make some conscious effort in changing our habit.Meals together send the message that we all are part of the team.Through interactions and games dinner can be made fun and kids often show their interest when they know that parents are not using any pressure tactics to feed them.You can learn more of parental influence on feeding kids on "Habit Changer"


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