Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size
A
A
A

Kids' Diets Rarely Mimic Their Parents'

Study Concludes That Children, Particularly Tweens and Teens, Don’t Take Many Food Cues From Mom and Dad
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Dec. 10, 2010 -- A new study suggests that parents have minimal sway over their children’s diets.

The review, which flouts conventional wisdom and previous research, takes a new look at studies of family eating habits published since 1980 and finds little similarity between the diets of children and their parents.

“This result contradicts other studies,” says Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, a professor of nutrition and sociology at New York University, who was not involved in the current research.

Nestle says previous work has found that parents have a good deal of influence over what their kids eat, but that the degree of influence lessens as kids move into their tweens and teens.

“If it’s little kids, parents have plenty of influence. High school? Forget it. Peer pressure is overwhelming,” Nestle says.

Still, she thinks the study, which is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, may have captured an important shift in how children make choices about what to eat.

“It’s certainly true that advertisers have penetrated the consciousness of even very young children, as any parent of a 2-year-old can attest,” Nestle says. “The very purpose of marketing to children is to convince kids that they are supposed to eat ‘kids’ food,’ not what their parents eat, and that they know more about what they are supposed to eat than their parents do. So if this study is correct, they are succeeding.”

Kids, Parents, and Eating Habits

The authors of the new review, who were from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health, combed the scientific literature for studies that assessed the diets of parents and their children from January 1980 through September 2009. Only 24 were deemed to be strong enough to be included.

The reviewers point out that many of the studies were small, which may weaken the statistical power of the results, and that the conclusions of the individual studies varied considerably.

When taken together, though, researchers say it appears that kids eat the same percent of recommended daily calories and fat as their parents only about 20% of the time.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
 
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
 
mother and daughter talking
Tool
child brushing his teeth
Slideshow
 
Sipping hot tea
Slideshow
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Video
 
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
Article
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
 
tissue box
Quiz
Child with adhd
Slideshow