Children eat what their parents eat

By • Published: August 12th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Eating nutritious foods can help adults stay healthy and well. It also keeps obesity at bay. But in eating right, parents aren’t just helping themselves — they’re helping their children too.

Several studies, including a new one in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development, have found a link between what parents eat and what their children eat as toddlers, tots and even teens. The amount of fruit, vegetables and snack foods children eat is strongly related to the amount of those foods their parents eat.

Just as a toddler’s first taste of sugar might turn him or her off vegetables, other early food experiences might influence what and how people eat as they get older and even throughout their lifetime.

Studies show youngsters often do not eat fruits or vegetables daily, but many have french fries, desserts and sweetened beverages at least once a day. That’s consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that show increasing levels of childhood obesity over the last few decades. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, foods light on nutritious value should only be consumed occasionally in an otherwise balanced diet. And even if children refuse to eat healthful foods at first, parents should continue to offer them.

The C-D-C’s Fruits & Veggies-More Matters initiative helps people find the right amount of fruits and vegetables to eat daily — just plug your age, gender and activity level into the online calculator. The site also features new fruits and vegetables each month, with information about their origins, taste and texture as well as recipes. That helps healthful eaters discover new greens and brightly colored fruits from different parts of the world.

Who says eating veggies can’t be an adventure?