Parents have limited influence on children’s eating habits

December 9, 2010 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Parents have limited influence on children’s eating habits
New study findings from researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health are reporting that despite previous research, parents may actually have very limited influence over their children's eating habits.

To investigate, researchers reviewed twenty-four studies published between 1980 and 2009 assessing the degree of association and similarity between children's and their parents' dietary intake.

Overall, researchers found parents had limited influence over their children's eating habits.  Researchers say based on the studies from many different countries, they found a weak association between parent and child dietary intake.

While researchers agree that parents need to be good role models to help their children eat healthier, they say that young people's eating patterns are influenced by many complex factors, and the family environment plays only a partial role.

They add that more attention should be given to the influence of the other players on children's eating patterns such as that of schools, the local food environment, peer influence as well as government guidelines and policies - especially when designing healthy eating initiatives.

The findings, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health come just weeks after another study found that parents' strategies to encourage healthy eating in their children might in fact have the opposite effect.  The study reported that parents who tell their children to clean their plate might be causing them to be fussy eaters, while parents who try to tightly control what their children eat could make them prone to overeating.

Looking for nutrition advice for the teen in your life?  Pick up Leslie Beck's book, Healthy Eating for Preteens and Teens - a comprehensive guide to diet, nutrition and food, including healthy weight control strategies and over 60 easy-to-prepare recipes.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.