Fathers,not mothers, influence what children eat

June 10th, 2011 - 7:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 10 (IANS) A man’s choice of where to eat could literally tip the scales on his child’s health as his perceptions of family meals carry more weight, so to speak, than mothers’, according to a new study

Men who have no trouble eating food in a fast food restaurant are going to be more likely to have kids who do so, said Texas AgriLife Research sociologist Alex McIntosh, who led the study, reports The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour.

New research indicates that fathers are more likely than mothers to have an impact on childhood obesity. This study showed that lenient fathers allow their children more trips to fast food restaurants which have been linked to obesity in children, according to an AgriLife statement.

The study began as a 15-month look at parents’ use of time and how that impacted meal choices. It aimed at the difference between fast food and full-service restaurants because numerous studies have shown a correlation between fast food consumption and weight gain.

Of particular interest for the research, funded by the US Department of Agriculture, was parental choice of restaurants as a connection to childhood obesity, McIntosh said.

McIntosh said the message to fathers should be that they have some responsibility just like mothers to raise healthy, well-adjusted children. Also, fathers need to know more about nutritional content of fast food.

The only instances of mothers being more lax on the use of fast food restaurants are those who are neglectful and those who are highly committed to their work, McIntosh said.

“So mothers are not unimportant when it comes to eating out choices,” he said, “but in terms of statistical findings, the father findings are stronger”.

“Traditionally, academics have blamed mothers for everything that goes wrong with children, especially when it comes to food,” he added.

“But I think it’s pretty clear that fathers have a substantial influence over what children are eating. And if that’s the case, then they need to be the target of education just like mothers.”

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