Parental Influence on the Eating Patterns of Children


ParentalInfluence on the Eating Patterns of Children

ParentalInfluence on the Eating Patterns of Children

Eatinghabits and the type of food consumed are significant factors to wellbeing of people. The adoption of healthy eating habits and consumingproperly balanced diets are critical in the maintenance of healthybodies. There are many factors that influence the diet and eatinghabits of people, especially children. One of the most influentialfactors is the role of parents in a child’s life, in regard to theeating habits. According to Draxtenet al (2014),this is because all the elements of eating are directly affected bythe role that parents play in a child’s life from a tender age. Inaddition, the role of parents overrides other factors that influencethe eating habits of children. This paper explores the influences ofparents on the eating habits of children.

Parentsinfluence the eating habits of children by determining the time thatchildren eat among other important schedules. According to Larson etal (2013), parents influence their children to eat well by having aspecific time for eating meals, snacks and breakfast. Parents do thisby setting a routine that is strictly adhered to should be followedto make sure children eat at the right time. On the other hand,parents influence the eating habits by not setting such a routine ora schedule to be followed at home. According to Schlosser (2012), ifchildren are left to choose when to eat and what to eat, they willliberty to adopt unhealthy eating habits from the influence ofcommercial fast food promotions. Parents who have the right eatingpattern creates a healthy eating routine in children even in future.

Parentsinfluence the eating habits of children by acting as models of thetype of food eaten and the time of eating. This is because parentsact as the first role models of a child at an early age in regard toall aspects of life. Marotz (2005) argues that eating habits and thetype of food eaten is one of the main aspects of influence that aparent can impact on a growing child. One of the main ways thatparents achieve this is eating their meals together as a family.

Eatingtogether as a family influences the type of food and the time thatchildren eat, as learnt from parents. According to Neumark et al(2013), the family behavior habit has a positive influence on theeating habits of children. Children in such a family will eatwhatever food that the parents eat, and at the specific times thatthey eat as a family. For instance, children who eat together withparents eat balanced diets as it is an observation of an adult.According to Larson et al (2013), if children are left to choose andeat alone, they may take unbalanced diet by selecting only theirpreferred sweet foods. As a result, the chances of becoming obese arehigher.

Parentsinfluence the eating habits of children by dictating the menu forevery day meals at home. According to Neumarket al (2013),menu planning of food is vital in instilling right eating habits.This is because the food stored by parents at home is what theirchildren will eat (Neumarket al, 2012).At the same time, children will eat what is prepared and served tothem at home, especially when there are no alternatives.

Thedaily menu creates a habit that a child adopts and continues with iteven when he is an adult. Therefore, parents should buy the rightfood when they go for shopping because children imitate what adultsdo. According to Draxtenet al (2014), thismeans that being a good role model is important in bringing upchildren who eats healthy food. Setting a good example to children isimportant to influence their healthy eating habits. For example, ifparents cut down the amount of calories they take, their childrenwill also copy to take fewer calories.

Theeating habits of children are also influenced by the freedom thatparents give them to eat any food they want. According to Marotz(2005) the freedom is determined by the level of restriction thatparents apply to children in regard to eating of some foods. Foodrestrictions affect children eating habits by limiting their desireand frequency as well as the access to the restricted food. Forexample, if parents restrict children from eating sweet foods likebiscuits and cakes, the liking for these products is reduced andpreference reduces among children (Schlosser, 2012). On the otherhand, parents influence their kids to adopt unhealthy eating habitsby allowing them to eat the junk food on a regular basis.

Inaddition, parents influence the eating habits of children throughtheir availability to the family, so as to share meals with theirchildren. This is because the modern parents are busy with careersand work, so as to provide for the family (Larsonet al, 2013).As a result, the changes in lifestyle have left the caregiver to feedchildren and monitor them. According to Draxtenet al (2014), eatingtogether as a family has been become difficult, hence no parentsinfluence in children eating healthy. For instance, the career womanhas no time for snacks and regular meals. Therefore, her children areleft to be influenced by teachers and at school. This is because thebusy professional mother has no time for monitoring the foods herchildren are taking.

Theage at which solid food is provided to the children has a correlationwith the food eaten by the child in future. Particularly, the timesolid food is introduced to a kid determines the preferences of thatfood in the future. Children that are introduced to sweet food suchas like fresh juices are likely to prefer sweet food over the bitterones (Draxtenet al, 2014).This ultimately leads to a child’s preference of sweet foods infuture, and habit of taking snacks and fast foods during his or heradulthood. On the other hand, parents and caregivers who givenutritious diet as opposed to fewer snacks and less energy givingfood influence children to prefer healthy foods (Preedyet al, 2013).This is because transitioning liquid food to solid food forms thefoundation of children eating habits later in life.

Parentsplay a significant role in shaping the eating habits of children byinfluencing the factors that determine the eating habits of the youngones. Parents determine the time that children eat and the frequencyeating by dictating the menu and schedule of meals at home. Inaddition, parents act as the role models from which children learnthe eating habits from. The example is set by encouraging families toeat together, thereby showing children how to eat and the type offood to eat. Therefore, parents should provide good influence tochildren by encouraging them to eat healthy. Moreover, parents shouldbe at the forefront in teaching their children to adopt healthyeating habits.


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