The link between children’s and parents’ food choices
A recent study by an Australian researcher that suggest that children tend to make food choices following their parents’ example even at an early age – as early as 5 in fact. The study was conducted through the University of Southern Australia’s Centre for Nutritional Physiology and was entitled Parental Attitudes and Nutrition Knowledge.
The researcher conducted a survey of 200 children age 5 to 6 years old about their food choices using picture cues and compared the results with surveys conducted with their parents.
The results showed that there is a strong positive link between parent’s nutritional knowledge and children’s food choices. In addition, even 5-year olds seem to be able to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy food choices based on their experiences at home.
As the researcher pointed out, parenting cannot be learned from the books and comes with many different roles – including that of a nutritionist/dietitian, a teacher and well – a good role model.
We’ve been lucky so far. Our twin boys will be turning 6 this year and they are so easy going when it comes to eating. Sometimes when I see how fussy about food some of my friends’ children can be, I really wonder what I and my husband did right except perhaps by just being ourselves – uncomplicated eaters with a strong inclination towards good nutrition and a strong aversion against fast food.
I remember when my nephews were growing up and the hard time my sister had in getting them to eat anything at all except fast food. For her two boys, the terms “food” and “eating” get response like “Oh, no! Not again!” as if the act of eating was a punishment. This changed as soon as they reached puberty but mealtimes during early years were quite tiring for both parents and children alike.
But it’s not only about eating as such but also about what my kids like to eat that sometimes surprises me. They are the only kids I know who would say “yummy” over a platter of vegetable cuts or a bowl of fruit salad, specifically request for a lunch of rice, broccoli soup and fish and are crazy about smelly French cheese. We (me and my husband) do set a good example but so did my sister. So do friends whose 6-year old girl would touch neither fruit nor vegetable.
So yes, parents do play a big role in influencing the eating habits of their children. But I still think there is more fussy eaters than just bad role models.
What do you think?