Philadelphia, PA, April 30, 2012 It is often thought that starting a family will lead parents to healthier eating habits, as they try to set a good example for their children. Few studies, however, have evaluated how the addition of children into the home may affect parents' eating habits. Changes in family finances, the challenges of juggling schedules, or a child's eating preferences may influence how a family eats. In one of the first longitudinal studies to examine the effect of having children on parents' eating habits, researchers have found that parenthood does not lead to healthier diets. The research is published online today in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
"We found that parenthood does not have unfavorable effects on parent's diets but neither does it lead to significant improvements compared to non-parents, as health practitioners would hope," reports lead investigator Helena H. Laroche, MD, University of Iowa and the Iowa City VA Medical Center. "In fact, parents lag behind their childless counterparts in decreasing their intake of saturated fat, and their overall diet remains poor."
The study evaluated the diets of 2,563 adults enrolled in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) cohort study, a multi-center longitudinal prospective cohort study to identify the development of coronary risk factors in young adults. The study measured the change from the baseline year, 1985-1986, to year seven (1992-1993) for intake of percent saturated fat, calories, daily servings of fruits and vegetables and sugar-sweetened beverages, and frequency of fast food intake. None of the subjects had children in the home at the baseline year.
Researchers found that percent saturated fat decreased among both groups, but parents showed a smaller decrease compared to non-parents. There were no statistically significant differences in change in caloric, fruit and vegetable, sugar sweet
|Contact: Eileen Leahy|
Elsevier Health Sciences