The three articles in this edition explore factors which may explain why children eat the foods they do. Khanolkar et al. presents the results from a large scale study in Sweden and concludes that the best predictors of a child’s CVD risk factors (including BMI) are the parents’ diet and exercise.

Melbye et al. argue from their study in Norway that a child’s own cognitions are the best predictors of their fruit and vegetable intake, above and beyond the impact of parental factors.

The third US paper by Margarello and Smith concludes that fruit and vegetables are rarely advertised to parents, that most advertisements are for snack foods and packaged foods and that they key messages relate to taste, saving time and family bonding.

A child’s diet would therefore seem to be the product of a range of influences. For me this reflects a three pronged method of parenting in the context of both obesity and eating disorders. Such a method emphasises the following:

  1. be a good role model and behave in a way you want your child to behave;
  2. say the right things about food and activity to give your child a healthy script in their head that can carry them into adulthood; and
  3. manage their environment in ways that makes healthy behaviour easier.

    If parents could use this method with their children then maybe they could help them adopt a healthier approach to food, even within a world which seems intent on making children increasingly unhealthy.

See next article