Publishe Feb 17, 2014

The Psychological Approach to Rapid Fat Loss #17:  Impact of children in their parents´ diet.

There are a lot of factors that can influence the individual choice of the food you eat. There is a great influence depending on the food habits of those who live and share in the same house. The most outstanding fact is that, even though parents try their best to influence their children’s diet, the impact of children´s diet will most likely influence their parents´ too.

It is known that the presence of kids at home will lead to a higher intake of fat and saturated fat in adults. A study by Helena H. Laroche, MD, Timothy P. Hofer, MD, MSc, Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP, J Am Board Fam Med. 2007;20(1):9-15: “Adult Fat Intake Associated with the Presence of Children in Households: Findings from NHANES III”, analyzes diet patterns of two adult groups, One group was of those adults with no children living in their household. The second group was of adults living with children.

The study shows that the presence of children living with these adults was deeply associated with their diets that included food groups like ice milk and milk shakes, ice cream, pizza and pasta, sausage, bacon; cake, brownie, cookies, donuts, chocolate candy, butter, mayonnaise, margarine, among others.

Adults with children consumed significantly higher amounts of fat and saturated fat in 24 hours. These adults had also higher chances of eating pizza, ice cream, and processed food (junk food). To put in perspective, the difference of fat and saturated fat consumption between both groups can be compared to the equivalent of one additional slice of pizza every day, which can make a whole extra pizza per week.

Explanations for these findings are quite simple. Adults are usually under time pressure when eating with children. Kids become impatient during meals, giving preference to fast food. On the other hand, parents will purchase foods their kids will be more likely to eat, usually high fat and high sugar foods. Also, parents will prefer ready to eat foods, likely higher in fat content. Then the adults will eat just that!.

Last but not least, food advertising toward children can also influence parents´ diet.

So, what to do? Parents should emphasize that children should be eating healthy foods and brining home just little junk food, in order to avoid negative impact in both adult and children diet.

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