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Even if children don’t listen, that doesn’t mean we quit talking

Submitted by on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 No Comment

Forget the fruits and veggies and go ahead and binge on the burgers. You’ll eventually have to turn your kids loose on the world anyway, where their friends, television and school might be a bigger factor than your teachings in determining what they eat.

The latter is a finding from recent research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which says the link between parents’ and children’s eating habits is weak.

Researchers examined U.S. Department of Agriculture data from more than 16,000 people -  mothers, fathers and children – and compared children’s diet with that of their parents.

Researchers found that there wasn’t much of a match.

“Our findings indicate that factors other than family and parental eating behaviors may play an important role in affecting American children’s dietary intakes,” a news release said.

At least they looked at fathers this time instead of pinning it all on mom. And at least for once the study doesn’t hang parents out to dry for everything children say or do for the rest of their lives. Yes, parents play huge roles in how their children develop – but they’re not the only factor in future success or lack thereof.

Which I suppose is the point of the finding. But that doesn’t mean we give up.

It’s been tempting at times with Big Guy in particular, who often laments that life would be perfect if good food were junk and junk were good food. I happen to agree because, truth be told, I’d rather down a donut than eat an apple any day. But I realize I can’t do that. Not if I want to live to see my kids become adults, at least.

And if we don’t teach that, how will they ever learn it? You can intersperse all the public service announcements you want between McDonald’s commercials and it might or might not take. You can plaster the school halls with posters, but as long as the cafeteria is serving Cheetos, the message might be lost.

Yes, some of our lessons will be lost over the years, too. But we can, at best, give our children a solid base and, at least, not let them trash their own health before they’re old enough to realize what’s happening.

Sorry, Big Guy. I’m  going to keep putting vegetables on the table, even if you’ll listen even less when you’re a teen than you do now.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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