Do Children Eat Healthier With Food Guidelines?

Do Children Eat Healthier With Food Guidelines?

Do you want your child to eat right? Of course you do. What parent doesn’t? Luckily, all it takes is a little regulation.

According to a recent study released by the University at Buffalo, researchers found children make better food choices when their parents set guidelines for them as toddlers.

The study focused on a sample of almost 9,000 children to see how parental rules affected their diets. The researchers, led by Xiaozhong Wen, PhD, Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo, studied toddlers when they were two and then again when they were four. The toddlers who had guidelines growing up exhibited better self-control, compared to those who had no guidelines. This self-control equated to healthier eating habits.

Soda was by far the biggest indulgence of toddlers without guidelines. They consumed on average 25% more than the guideline kids.

Yes, this data could be slightly skewed. Parents who do set guidelines in the first place are also probably less likely to have soda around the house. However, these guidelines may be effective if children go to a place that might have soda, such as a friend’s house or a restaurant.

In a similar study, also lead by Wen, researchers looked at dietary habits of younger children (12-month-olds). The study showed that even for children this young, what they eat can affect their diets for the rest of their lives. Wen was cited in a Time article saying, “Dietary patterns are harder to change later if you ignore the first year, a critical period for the development of taste preferences and the establishment of eating habits.”

So getting your child used to healthy eating when they are younger can make a huge difference.

For specific ways to introduce better eating into the home here is “Chalene Johnson’s 10 Tips for Getting Your Child to Eat Healthy,” article.