Are your kids picking around the vegetables in their holiday dinner? A new study suggests it might be because they saw you doing the same thing.
“What and how mothers eat is the most direct influence on what toddlers eat,” said Mildred Horodynski, a professor of nursing at Michigan State University.
Horodynski based this opinion on research involving 400 low-income women (black and non-Hispanic white) with children ages 1-3 enrolled in Early Head Start programs.
Results showed that the toddlers were less likely to consume real foods, like fruits and vegetables, four or more times a week if their mothers did not consume that amount.
“Health professionals need to consider this when developing strategies to increase a child’s consumption of healthy foods,” Horodynski. “Diets low in fruit and vegetables even at young ages pose increased risks for chronic diseases later in life.”
The study also found that children were likely to consume less than the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables if their mothers referred to them as “picky eaters.”
“Perceptions of a toddler as a picky eater may be related to parenting style or culture,” Horodynski said. “Mothers who viewed their children as picky eaters may be more lax in encouraging the consumption of fruits and vegetables.”
Horodynski also also noticed dietary differences among race: black mothers and toddlers did not consume as many fruits and vegetables as non-Hispanic whites, though a majority of all study subjects fell below recommended U.S. dietary guidelines.
If your New Year’s resolutions include meeting your family around a dinner table full of more fruits and vegetables, think about joining a local CSA, food co-op, locating a winter farmers’ market, or planning a garden.
Image Credit: Bonciz.com
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