Kids are Bad for Your Diet

[image via Mojo Mom]

For breakfast, you pour a glass of organic milk to go with a bowl of steel cut oats with honey and sliced banana.
You pack a brown bag lunch with turkey and sprouts in a whole wheat pita and an apple.
That’s how the kids are eating. You, on the other hand, grab a latte on your way to work, and if you’re lucky someone brought in donuts today. Lunch? Who has the time?

It’s official: kids are bad for your diet.
It seems counter-intuitive when you’ve made the house an official soda-free zone and your refrigerator overflows with free range chicken, carrot sticks, and lowfat yogurt. But a study published in the December issue of the European Review of Agricultural Economics found that households without children are healthier eaters. A lot healthier.

7,014 families were involved in the study. After controlling for income, age and other socioeconomic factors that sway purchasing decisions, it found that in a two week period, each member of a childless household consumed 4.4 more pounds of fruits and vegetables than their counterparts with kids.

What’s going on here?
Are parents just big hypocrites who pop Swedish fish by the hand full while they scrutinize labels for hidden sodium and trans fats? Maybe parents are skimping on time and money for their own diets to afford the best for their kids; certainly time and money need to be stretched further in households with children.

It doesn’t matter as much as you might think.
A Johns Hopkins University study that appeared in November’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health claims that contrary to popular opinion, parents aren’t really much of an influence on what their kids are eating. Government guidelines and policies that regulate school meals, peer influence, advertising, and a host of factors in the broader food environment all play important roles in forming children’s eating habits.

Don’t run for the Swedish fish just yet.
This doesn’t let parents off the hook. A permissive manner and a house stocked with junk food are still ill-advised, and positive modeling does matter—just not as much as we might wish. And the benefits of good nutrition are kind of like the oxygen masks on an airplane: parents still need to put theirs on first so that they can be there to take care of their kids.



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7 Responses to Kids are Bad for Your Diet

  1. I echo some of the other thoughts. The title had me laughing and it’s true but it’s because eat when my kids snack even if I’m not hungry. Bugger! But I totally feel we influence their eating choices. Yes they like their sweet treats but they also find fast food kind of gross and have developed a preference for home cooking. Plus they’ve learned that you have to have salad with that mac ‘n’ cheese. They actually ask for it now. I guarantee that is parental influence—not peer pressure.

  2. When I saw the title, I said, “Boy that’s the truth,” but upon reading it, I realize that this reasoning isn’t true for our family. We do eat a lot healthier now that Dudette’s around. That being said, I don’t work outside the home so I’m able to commit the time and energy to healthy feeding and eating. 🙂

  3. This totally made me laugh. Aside from the perfect description of what goes on in my house every morning…and then what happens at lunch, I do have to disagree on the influence parents on the kids’ diets. I am 100% convinced that the home is where you get a good or a bad start. Our nearly 3 year old is my point of reference but her varied diet and palate, in my mind, is a direct result of feeding her what we eat.

  4. G Martin says:

    It’s an interesting article.

    Back in the day, when I was young, we didn’t have vending machines at school selling candy or soda pop. Nor were you allowed to bring candy or soda pop to school, even if your mother packed it in your lunchbox. Our teachers taught us the four basic food groups, meats and fish, dairy, fruits and vegetables, bread and cereals, and taught us that we needed a serving of each to have a balanced meal. The school cafeteria followed that same formula and mother followed the same rule at home. I don’t know about schools outside of the U.S., but here in the U.S. I wholeheartedly agree that they need to get rid of the junk food and go back to teaching the basic four food groups. We sure didn’t have overweight kids when I was growing up.

  5. Yup, I agree kids are bad for your diet. Even if say you do have a decent lunch, If my kids dont finish I usually finish it for them. I hate to waste food.

  6. Very neat article. Cool.

  7. very cool. thanks for sharing. check out the giveaway i’m hosting on my site.

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