Parents have little influence over their children's diets

Parents who are looking to cut their child's risk of type 2 diabetes by setting a good dietary example may need to rethink their approach. A new study from Johns Hopkins University researchers has shown that the eating habits of children rarely mirror their parents.

It is commonly believed that a parent's diet has a major influence over their offspring's. Efforts aimed at curbing obesity and diabetes rates in adolescents have commonly focused on first improving parents' diets.

However, after the results of hundreds of previously published studies concerning parental influence over childhood diets, the researchers reported in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health that parents actually influence their offspring's diets to a very small degree.

"Contrary to popular belief, many studies from different countries, including the United States, have found a weak association between parent-child dietary intake," said Youfa Wang, who led the study. "This is likely because young people's eating patterns are influenced by many complex factors, and the family environment plays only a partial role."

Wang added that other factors influencing diet include schools, peers, local food environment, government guidelines concerning school food and advertising.
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