If children watch their parents eat huge quantities of chocolate, chips, cookies, and ice cream, there is a good chance they will start eating similar kinds of food, as this will be the kind of food that is available in the house. If junk food is within easy reach of children, then of course they are going to help themselves to it, and even if it not they will probably find a way of getting to it, as it is the ‘forbidden fruit’. Adults are getting fatter because they are struggling to control their eating habits, and it seems that parents are passing on their own bad eating habits to their children.
At meal times parents usually serve up the same food they are eating to their children and often in similar quantities. Consequently, if parents are choosing to eat fried, fatty foods every night their children will too and if their parents don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables nor will they. Many people do not know what reasonable portion sizes are, and thus end up eating more food than they need, and so parents are not only eating too much; their children are, also. Although children are growing, when they are young they don’t require the same number of calories as teenagers or adults, and so the fact they are being given more than they need is leading an increasing number of children to develop a weight problem.
Obesity in children is something that could mostly be avoided if parents decided to feed their children less and concentrate on getting them to eat a balanced, calorie-controlled diet. Unfortunately, parents will often find themselves giving into their children’s demands for a McDonald’s meal or an extra slice of cake, and thus any attempt to control their children’s eating habits goes out of the window. Besides, many parents can’t face the prospect of hypocritically demanding their children eat up their vegetables when they never do.
It is clearly not only at meal times that children are eating too much, since many children have picked up the habit of snacking on junk food between meals from their parents. If their parents give them some sweet treats to try they will probably find they like them, and once they have a taste for them it can be hard for children to restrict the amount they eat, particularly if their parents do not enforce any boundaries. Even if parents do try to stop their children eating so much junk food they may find that their children try to sneak food out of the kitchen, making it difficult for them to deal with their children’s eating habits.
Children tend to learn from their parents, copying their behaviour and finding their actions either rewarded or punished, and so it is clear that if parents have developed bad eating habits, their children are likely to, as well.
Article by Michelle Wilkinson