Kids may not follow parents’ lead when it comes to food

By Michelle Anderson • Published: September 9th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Children can be so much like their parents it’s uncanny.

Your son may laugh at the same kinds of jokes. Or maybe your daughter shares your curly hair.

But when it comes to food preferences, a parent’s influence isn’t nearly as great as once believed.

There is some resemblance between parents’ and children’s diets, new research suggests, but it’s merely a moderate one.

The study was published online in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

Researchers used data from the U-S Department of Agriculture to take the first national look at children’s food influences.

They found that ninety percent of the variations in children’s diets were explained by factors other than a parent’s diet.

That begs the question: If parents aren’t the biggest factor in children’s food choices, what is?

The researchers say their findings suggest that many other influences, such as a child’s peers or television viewing, are having a bigger impact on what children eat.

The study did find that children whose parents consumed a healthier diet… fewer than ten percent… were three times more likely to eat healthy compared with children whose parents didn’t.

But not all hope is lost.

Experts say parents should do their best to be good role models by taking care to eat a healthy diet. When grocery shopping, discuss with your kids how you decide which foods to buy, and enlist their help in preparing meals. Schools can help, too.

Just don’t be surprised if the apple of your eye prefers bananas.