Eating habits and exercise behaviors in children can deteriorate early

Jan 09, 2009

As children transition from preschool-age to school-age, they may develop eating habits and leisure-time patterns that may not meet current recommendations and may contribute to childhood obesity. In a study published in the January/February 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, researchers report that parents perceived that their pre-school children (2 to 5 years) had relatively good eating habits and physical activity levels, but that parents of school-aged children (6 to 12 years) felt their children had less healthful diets and leisure-time activities.

Surveying the mothers of 174 children aged 2 to 12, investigators from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Brown University Medical School determined the parent's age, height and weight. The eating and leisure-time activity questionnaire was completed by the parent, and the child's height and weight were obtained from the child's medical record.

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 behaviors commonly believed to promote childhood obesity increases with older children.

Writing in the article, Dr. Hollie A. Raynor, Department of Nutrition, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, states, "Although preschool-aged children engaged in more healthful behaviors according to parent recall, the preschool-aged children only met 2 dietary recommendations, fruit and low-fat dairy intake. All other parent-reported eating and leisure-time activity patterns did not meet current recommendations. Surprisingly, other than fast-food consumption, this study found few parent-reported eating and leisure-time behaviors related to weight status, which may be a consequence of the overall poor diet quality and relative inactivity reported in this diverse sample.

Thus, interventions designed to help children meet dietary and leisure-time activity recommendations should begin by assisting parents with preschool-aged children in developing skills to provide the structure and the environment necessary for their young children to develop healthful lifestyles."

Source: Elsevier

Explore further: Shoppers confused by 'traffic light' food labels, says study

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Feeling impulsive or frustrated? Take a nap

19 minutes ago

Taking a nap may be an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration, according to a University of Michigan study.

Asian-language smoking quitline successful nationwide

6 hours ago

(HealthDay)—An Asian-Language Smokers Quitline (ASQ) reaches Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese speakers nationwide, and most callers receive medication and counseling, according to a study published online ...

Many Americans trying to cut their salt intake: CDC

6 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Worried about links between high daily salt intake, high blood pressure and stroke, half of American adults questioned in a recent poll say they've tried to cut back on sodium.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.