Dad's Restaurant Choice Influences Kids More Than Mom's Does

Chow on 06.10.11


When it comes to teaching kids healthy eating habits, fathers have a greater influence on kids' eating habits than mothers do, says a new study reported in Science Daily.  

The study was funded by the US. Department of Agriculture, and focused on the relationship between restaurants that parents chose for family dinners and childhood obesity. The kids in the study were asked only to keep a diary of what they ate at restaurants and at home -- not the name of the restaurant, said sociologist Dr. Alex McIntosh  -- but the researchers realized that the children had been so detailed in their reporting that they could analyze the results even further. 

"Somewhat to our surprise, it was father's time spent at fast-food restaurants -- not mother's time spent there -- that was associated with kids' time spent in a fast-food place," says McIntosh. "For a long time fathers have been told that they need to spend more time with their children. But often when this message is being transmitted, the message is 'you should be having fun with your children.'" 

The food choices of mothers are "not unimportant," says the study, but the fathers' choices were more closely linked to the amount of time kids spend eating fast food. The solution? Make sure dad knows that quality time doesn't have to mean fries and a shake, and make sure your partner is paying as much attention to your kids' nutrition as you are

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Photo: ebrull/Creative Commons 

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