It’s easy to believe that our health is in our own hands, but this is not always the case. Parents have a large effect on our early eating habits. The habits we develop early on can stick with us for a long time in our lives, even all the way through to adulthood. What exactly are the ways that our diets are influenced, however?
Many studies have shown that the food choices that mothers make during pregnancy have an effect on their children’s tastes well before birth. Amniotic fluid, the fluid which surrounds the baby in the womb, is a direct source of sensory exposure for the infant. Many of the food flavors of the mother’s diet become apparent in the fluid. Taste and smell are thus developed early on in the fetus’s life.
Right after birth, development begins. The first 5 years of a child’s life are crucial, as they go through the most rapid developments during this time. These are the years where their eating habits will truly begin to solidify. Children will, of course, eat what is provided to them by their caregivers. Surprisingly, thirty-one percent of young children are routinely fed by an outside caregiver, such as from a preschool or daycare. These meals may not always be the healthiest option for children. Families also on average are not eating dinner together as often. This can lead to children overeating without supervision. The amount of food children are given is just as important as the type of food they receive. Recent studies have shown that larger food portions in children’s diets promote a greater energy intake.
In addition, parents may not always pay attention to what children are ingesting even when at home. They may find it easier to buy fast food or provide unhealthy snacks that would please their children quicker. These negative habits have already shown the consequences. Around 1 in 5 children and teens suffer from obesity.
Childhood obesity is something that should be taken seriously, as it can lead to a large number of complications. These include, but are not limited to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and, elevated blood cholesterol, liver disease, bone and joint problems, and respiratory problems such as asthma.
These statistics are pretty alarming, but a lot can be done through awareness. It’s vital to do your research on how you can keep your family healthy. Don’t hesitate to talk with a medical professional about what your first steps can be.
Ehrenfeld, T. (2018, June 13). Overcoming Childhood Obesity: How Parents Can Help… or Hurt. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/overcoming-childhood-obesity-how-parents-can-help-or-hurt
Savage, J. S. (2008, September 6). Parental Influence on Eating Behavior. Retrieved from NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2531152/