Parental Influence on Children's Diet

Written by katie duzan
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Parents affect their children's diet in several ways, both short-term and long-term. A child depends on her parents to meet her nutritional needs and to stay healthy. Parents need to be aware of their children's needs and ensure they meet them on a daily basis. Parents have a great influence over a child's food choices, the amount of food available and when the food is available. However, because the child only eats what he wants, the parents' influence is limited.

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Significance

Parents influence several aspects of their child's food intake, from what they eat to when they eat it and even the amount of food they can eat. Because of this influence, parents have to be aware of their children's individual needs to ensure that they are eating what they need to to thrive. As they age, children have more control, but parents still influence their food choices at home. Parents can be a positive influence on their children's diet by choosing healthy foods and teaching healthy eating habits.

Types

Parents have complete control over what foods a young child has available. Adults purchase the food, whether it's junk food or healthy food. Parents also prepare all meals for young children, giving them no choice on food choices. If children don't have healthy food available, they may not meet all their nutritional needs. Children depend on parents to choose foods that are low in fat, sodium and sugar to keep them healthy.

Amount

The amount of food a child eats is dependent on the parents. Food servings are important to learn at an early age to prevent overeating. This is an important concept at mealtimes, when there may be an excess of food.

Considerations

Some children have sensory problems that cause them to avoid certain textures, temperatures or types of food. Occupational therapy addresses sensory problems to help children overcome their food aversions and eat all types of foods. Other children are extremely picky and have an extremely limited diet. If nutrients are a concern for these children, parents can supplement vitamins to ensure they meet all their nutritional needs.

Misconceptions

Parents' own eating habits have little effect on the child's future diet. As children age, they encounter a variety of situations when they try new foods. While the parents do affect their children's current nutritional intake, as adults, the foods they choose are not dictated by what their parents ate. However, portion sizes and eating habits are dependent on the parents, so adults should instil healthy habits such as only eating until full, regulating portion sizes, eating healthy low-fat, low-sugar and low-salt foods, and ensuring kids have a healthy body-image.

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