Teen-agers follow parental example in gorging on fast foods

February 10th, 2009 - 5:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 10 (IANS) Teenagers are more likely to follow their parents in gorging on fast foods like burgers and fries rather than healthier fruits and vegetables.

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers found that adolescents are more likely to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day if their parents do. Conversely, teens whose parents eat fast food or drink soda are more likely to do the same.

Daily, more than two million California adolescents (62 percent) drink soda and 1.4 million (43 percent) eat fast food, but only 38 percent eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables, according to a UCLA policy brief.

The new research is a reminder, however, that “good dietary habits start at home,” according to UCLA research scientist Susan H. Babey, co-author of the policy brief. “If parents are eating poorly, chances are their kids are too.”

Nearly one-third (30 percent) of California’s teenagers are overweight or obese. Poor dietary habits, along with environmental and other factors, are strongly linked to obesity, said an UCLA release.

The policy brief, which was funded by a grant from the California Endowment, drew upon the responses of thousands of California teenagers queried by the centre-administered California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the nation’s largest state health survey.

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