Reuters Health has a story about a new study showing that parents who want their preschoolers to eat their fruits and vegetables should probably practice what they preach. In a study of more than 1,300 families, researchers found that when parents boosted their own consumption of fruits and vegetables, so did their young children.
The findings, reported in the journal Preventive Medicine, point to the importance of parents “modeling” a healthy diet for their preschoolers. They also suggest that educating parents on nutrition early on could help address the problem of childhood obesity, the researchers say.
“We know that parents have a tremendous influence over how many fruits and vegetables their children eat,” lead researcher Dr. Debra Haire-Joshu, of Saint Louis University School of Public Health in St. Louis, commented in a written statement.
“When parents eat more fruits and vegetables, so do their children,” she added. “When parents eat and give their children high fat snacks or soft drinks, children learn these eating patterns instead.”
The one exception was children who were already overweight, who generally did not grow fonder of fruits and vegetables.
“Overweight children,” Haire-Joshu said, “have already been exposed to salty, sweet foods and learned to like them. To keep a child from becoming overweight, parents need to expose them early to a variety of health foods and offer the foods many times.”
This is exactly what I reported in my book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat.
You can see if your family is at risk by using my Fit Family Assessment tool.
Also, you can find an 8-week Family Fitness Plan at my website.