A healthy diet is associated
with promoting health and preventing diseases. Junk foods are one of the leading causes of obesity, especially
A number of factors have
been found to influence a child's diet and eating pattern. These include genetic taste preferences, parents'
level of education and socioeconomic status, family structure and familial
A study was conducted in the United States to find out if the food and
nutrition intake of parents or household heads are associated with those of
children in the same household. The
researchers also tried to find out if the food and nutrition intake of a child
is adequate if the father/ mother/ household head's intake is adequate. They also evaluated whether the child tends
to eat excessively at an occasion in which the parents eat excessively. The eating occasions were characterized as
breakfast, brunch/lunch, supper/dinner, and other, food/beverage.
Households with children
between the ages of 2 and 18 years were included in the study. For the purpose of evaluation, the children
were divided into 3 groups: preschoolers
(2-5 year olds), school-age (6-11
year olds), and teenagers (12-18 year olds).
Only 1 child was included per household. Thus, a total of 2380 children were included in the study, of
which 708 were in the preschoolers group, 836 in the school-age group and 836
in the teenagers group.
Information regarding diet
was collected from the family in case of younger children and from the children
themselves in case of the older ones. The
nutrition value of the food was calculated.
The study found that a child's diet is slightly to moderately
influenced by the diet of the female household head. This is particularly true for intake of meat in preschool
children. The influence was slightly
stronger for younger children as compared to teenagers. Teenagers come in contact with people
outside their homes and tend to get influenced by them.
The males in the household also influenced the dietary practices in
children. The intake of fruits in preschool children
was particularly influenced by their intake in male household members. Thus, if the father prefers a fruit as a
snack, it is likely that the child may also go in for a similar snack.
The total amount of food intake in children was likely to meet the
recommendations if the intake in adults neared their recommendations. This was true for most types of nutrients and foods including
fruits and vegetables.
Also, children are likely to eat extra on occasions when they observe their
parents eating extra.
Thus, we see that diet of parents or other adults in a household
influences the choice as well as the amount of food taken in by a child,
especially in a younger child. Children
are likely to observe the diet of the adults, even if the food is not taken at
the same time. Even what the men in the
household eat influences the diet of the child. Thus, if the child's food
habits have to change, it is important to change the adult's diet to a healthier
Zuercher JL, Wagstaff DA, Kranz S.
Associations of food group and nutrient intake, diet quality, and meal
sizes between adults and children in the same household: a cross-sectional
analysis of U.S. households. Nutrition
Journal 2011, 10:131 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-131