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Maternal personality affects child's eating habits
Date:4/3/2009

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"This is important because we discovered that the same socioeconomic risk factors for sweet and fatty foods that were found earlier among three to six-year old children in England were already present at 18 months. In addition, this shows that parents' ability to master stress can affect children's eating habits from a very early age."

More about the method

Earlier studies indicate that anxiety and post-natal depression can affect a child's eating habits. However, post-natal depression arises infrequently and usually abates during the first year, so it is probably irrelevant for the child's eating habits over time. Therefore, with colleagues Susan Niegel and Margarete E. Vollrath, Ystrm extended the research question to include the mother's personality measured by negative affectivity.

Children's eating habits were categorised as "healthy" and "unhealthy". Data were cross-checked with information about the mother's demographic, medical and socioeconomic background from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health's Medical Birth Registry. "Healthy" and "unhealthy" foods were mutually uncorrelated for negative affectivity in the analysis, i.e. a child getting ice-cream for dessert would not affect the variable that the same child had sprouts for dinner.

Weaknesses of the study

The breadth and the number of indicators for the children's eating habits were limited, as were the types of food that 18 month old children generally eat. Researchers only evaluated which foods children ate and not how they were served their food. Finally, a complete personality evaluation of the mothers could point to a more obvious and overall effect of their personality.

"Therefore, future studies should include all the five basic personality traits that are usually used in personality tests; extroversion, control, sociability and openness to new experiences, in addition to negative affectivity. It can also be interesti
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Contact: Julie Johansen
julie.johansen@fhi.no
Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3 4

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