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Healthy eaters created at home

Author John Thompson
Submitted 14-08-2008

If you want your kids to eat healthy food for the rest of their lives, make sure they see you eating fruits and vegetables early and often.

That is the parenting advice that researchers at Washington University in St Louis are hoping to communicate to mothers and fathers of preschoolers.

Findings from previous research concluded that children’s long-term eating patterns are generally established before they turn five.

Now, a five-year study of 1,306 parents and small children has found that changes in a father or mother’s diet correlates to modifications in the youngster’s eating habits as well. For example, a parent eating one more serving of vegetables per day led to their son or daughter eating half a serving extra as well.

"When parents eat more fruits and vegetables, so do their children," explained professor Debra Haire-Joshu. "When parents eat and give their children high-fat snacks or soft drinks, children learn these eating patterns instead."

It is hoped that these younger healthy eaters will carry their habits into later life. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention state that around 16.3 percent of U.S. children between the ages of 12 and 19 are obese.