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Healthy Eating By Parents Sets A Good Example To Their Children

If lower-income mothers want kids with , it’s best to adopt themselves and encourage their children to eat good foods rather than use force, rewards or punishments, says a study.

The study, which appears in a recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is one of a few that focuses on the eating habits of low-income families. The results demonstrate that the mothers who led by example and persuaded, rather than ordered, their kids to eat their vegetables had kids with healthier diets, said , MSU professor of and human nutrition.

“Mothers should stop forcing or restricting their kids’ eating,” she said. “They’d be better off providing a healthy food environment, adopting balanced eating habits themselves and covertly controlling their children’s diet quality by not bringing less into the house.”

Overtly restricting certain foods from a child when others are eating them at mealtimes can lead to unhealthy eating, she added.

Additional parental tips include maintaining regular meal and snack times, offering smaller portions of healthy foods and allowing the children to decide how much they will eat. And what about kids who’d rather play with their food or consume only junk food?

“With picky eaters, it’s best to coax and encourage them to eat rather than yell at them,” Hoerr said. “Other ways to get them interested in having a balanced diet is to take them to the grocery store or garden, and help them select new foods to taste as well as allow them to help cook at home.”

In continuing this research, Hoerr hopes to develop home-based and interactive educational materials for parents who want to encourage healthful eating.

Source

Additional MSU researchers contributing to this study include Megumi Murashima, doctoral student, and Stan Kaplowitz, sociologist. Part of Hoerr’s research is funded by MSU’s AgBioResearch.
Michigan State University