Children develop unhealthy eating habits as they enter school

January 10th, 2009 - 1:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 10 (IANS) As preschool-age children grow into school age, they are likely to develop unhealthy eating habits and leisure-time patterns that may bring on obesity. Researchers said parents perceived that their pre-school children (two to five years) had relatively good eating habits and physical activity levels. But parents of school-age children (six to 12 years) said they felt their children had rather less than healthy dietary habits.

Surveying the mothers of 174 children aged two to 12, investigators from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Brown University Medical School determined found that parents of older children report greater consumption of sweetened drinks instead of low-fat dairy drinks, as well as higher consumption of salty and sweet snacks.

Older children also tended to eat dinner with parents less often, which can contribute to less healthy food choices.

A greater percentage of parents with younger children rated their child as “just as” or “a little more” active than their peers as compared to the percentage of parents with older children.

Additionally, parents reported that the older children watched significantly more hours of TV on weekend days than the younger children. Taken together, these findings suggest that parent reporting of behaviours commonly believed to promote childhood obesity increases with older children.

Hollie A Raynor, department of nutrition, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, states that “although preschool-aged children engaged in more healthful behaviours according to parent recall, the preschool-aged children only met two dietary recommendations, fruit and low-fat dairy intake.

“Surprisingly, other than fast-food consumption, this study found few parent-reported eating and leisure-time behaviours related to weight status, which may be a consequence of the overall poor diet quality and relative inactivity reported in this diverse sample,” she said a Tennessee release.

These findings were published in the January issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour.

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