The results are in! Kids who see their moms eat in a healthy way are more likely to follow her example.
Today we live in a world where we are constantly challenged with the problems of obesity and diabetes. Kids are the quickest-rising demographic group for being overweight or obese. Dealing with this can prove to be a huge challenge, as it requires us to look at the roots of the problem — parental example.
Oftentimes, mothers’ eating habits must be considered first when dealing with childhood nutrition issues. In fact, this latest research confirms that the way a mother views her child’s eating habits (i.e. “a picky eater” or not) has a big impact on whether the child eats enough fruits and vegetables.
The “Picky Eater” Study
A recent study, published in the journal Public Health Nursing and conducted by professor Mildred Horodynski at Michigan State University’s College of Nursing, looked into this very question. The scientific study was done on 400 low-income women (black and non-Hispanic white) who had children one to three years of age.
Information was collected from mothers in 28 Michigan counties. It was found that the children of mothers who ate fruit and vegetables less than four or more times per week were also less likely to consume fruits and vegetables. It may not seem like a stretch for the imagination, as mothers and children often eat the same foods. But it does set a scientific precedence showing that the behavior of mothers is critical for dietary health in the young.
Similarly, it was found that the if the mothers saw their children as picky eaters, these children were also less likely to get enough health fruit and vegetables. This may be connected to a “laid-back” parenting style that does not “force” children into eating fruits and vegetables.
Culture and ethnic background was also considered. It was found that African American mothers and their children did not eat as much fruits and vegetables as non-Hispanic whites. Sadly, it was found that the vast majority of all women studied were eating much less than the current recommended U.S. dietary guidelines.
Previous and similar studies found that children who were exposed to different kinds of foods, overtime, were also more likely to eat fruits and vegetables. This means that kids need to have continual exposure to different healthy foods before they begin to like eating them. In fact, this same study found that kids need up to 15 exposures with a certain food before it can determined if a child indeed likes or dislikes something.
She went on to suggest that the study confirms the need for “family-based approaches to incorporating fruits and vegetables into daily eating habits. Mothers need to have the knowledge and confidence to make these healthy decisions for their children.”
In other words, if we can get the mothers’ fruit and vegetable consumption to increase, we are very likely to see positive role modeling for children, and thus a healthier diet for our offspring.
What are your thoughts on this study? Let’s hear them in the comments below.