Parenting and home environment can influence kids' health by shaping dietary and physical behaviors, such as providing access to fruits and vegetables or encouraging kids to play outside, say Duke Medicine researchers.
In this study, lead author Truls Ostbye and his colleagues examined the relationship between the home environment and behaviors related to obesity -dietary and exercise habits - among preschoolers.
The researchers studied data from 190 kids, ages two to five, whose mothers were overweight or obese.
They collected information on the children's food intake over the past week, with foods rated as junk food or healthy food. To gauge their levels of physical activity, the children wore accelerometers for a week, which measured moderate to vigorous physical activity as well as sedentary time.
The mothers reported information about their children's environments, including family policies around food and physical activity, accessibility of healthy versus junk foods, availability of physical activity equipment, and whether they model healthy eating or exercise for their kids.
The researchers found significant associations between these environmental measures and the preschoolers' physical activity and healthy versus junk food intake.
They concluded that to promote healthy behaviors in children, a healthy home environment and parental role modeling are important.
Their study was published online in the International Journal of Obesity on June 18, 2013.