Do As I Do – parents with bad eating habits may pass the trait to their children

Do As I Do – parents with bad eating habits may pass the trait to their children – Brief Article

Rebecca Segall

Children are better copycats than listeners: They’re more likely to do what their parents do, rather than what their parents say. But new research shows that parents aren’t always the best role models, especially when it comes to eating a healthy diet.

Maggie Hood, Ph.D., a researcher at Boston University School of Medicine, reports in a recent issue of the International Journal of Obesity that parents who vacillated between severe dieting and episodes of bingeing had children more likely to gain excessive weight throughout childhood. Children of food-conscientious parents, on the other hand, were the least likely to have gained weight throughout childhood.

Her research team followed 106 families over 11 years, annually assessing height, weight, dietary patterns and attitudes toward food. “We naturally expect that children will learn how to regulate their food intake,” says Hood. “But our research shows that some parents inadvertently teach their kids to ignore their body’s cues. Parents who exhibit alternating control and loss of control are probably guided in their own eating by more external than internal factors.” She suggests that these behaviors may be passed on to children, affecting their ability to regulate their own dietary intake.

Bad eating habits, however, are not impossible to break, according to Hood. “Erratic eaters should begin to deal with their food issues, and meanwhile make a concerted effort to make healthy foods available for their children,” she suggests.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group