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  Category: Articles » Health & Fitness » Children's Health » Article

Children Diets Can Influence What Their Parents Eat

By Ng Peng Hock

Obesity or overweight has always been identified as one of the risk factors for heart disease. Unhealthy foods and lifestyle have created many obese children around the world. Most health researchers have usually attributed the correlation between adults' and children's diets to parental influence.

Interestingly, a report, released in the early Jan 2007 in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, revealed otherwise: adults who live with children eat more fat, and more saturated fat, than those who do not. The 6-year nationwide study was based on the data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey of more than 33,000 people carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most researches had shown parents' diet can affect what their children eat. But in the case of fat intake, it may be that children and teenagers, who consume more fat than other age groups, influence the diets of their parents.

Data was gathered on 24-hour dietary recall from 6,600 adults, 48 percent of whom had at least one child under 17 in their household. After controlling for other variables, the presence of children was associated with an increased total fat consumption of 4.9 g per day in adults, and an increased saturated fat consumption of 1.7 g per day. Together, the total fat and saturated fat equal a daily 3-oz serving of lean ham.

Total number of calories consumed was not associated with the presence of children. However, adults with children tended to eat more pizza, cheese, cookies, ice cream, bacon, and other high-fat foods.

A Growth and Health Study, conducted by National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, reported that girls as young as 9 who were overweight were found to be more likely than girls of regular weight to develop serious short-term and long-term health problems. These problems may in turn lead to increased risk of developing heart disease. The study tracked 2,379 girls of ages 9 and 10 for more than 10 years, and found that young girls who were overweight were 3 to 10 times as likely as girls of regular weight to have unhealthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

As a matter of fact, some United States such as Delaware, Tennessee and South Carolina have begun sending these obese young girls home with obesity report cards recording their body mass index (BMI) scores.

Based on the about findings, it seems that healthy nutrition should actually focus on the entire family, and not only on specific individuals within the family.

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