Parents of young children less apt to be fit: study

April 12, 2011 - 0:0

Parents of young children are more likely to engage in unhealthy behavior than adults without kids, new research suggests.

A study of young adults from Minnesota found that mothers of children under 5 years old ate more unhealthy food, exercised less and weighed more than their childless counterparts, researchers reported Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Fathers of young kids were also less physically active, but otherwise there were few differences between men who had children and those who didn’t. The concern is that the apple won’t fall far from the tree when it comes to poor eating and exercise habits, said lead study author Jerica M. Berge of the University of Minnesota Medical School.
“Parents can transmit (these habits) to their kids,” Berge said. A separate study, also published Monday in Pediatrics, seems to bear that out. It found that preschool-aged Hispanic children whose parents were sedentary tended to have low activity levels as well.
Berge’s study is based on survey responses from more than 1,520 young adults taken between 1998, when they were juniors and seniors in high school, and 2009, when 149 of them had at least one child.
Researchers looked at how the dietary intake, physical activity and body mass index of parents of children younger than 5 years old, compared with those of adults the same age without children. They found that mothers ate about the same amount of fruit, whole grains and fiber as women without children. But mothers also consumed more sugar-sweetened beverages, saturated fat and total calories than non-mothers.
“What this might suggest is that parents, even though they’re trying to be healthy and model healthy behavior … they don’t have the time to make healthy meals,” Berge said.
“Instead they make quick meals and meals that are more palatable to kids … and usually consume those with the kids.”
(Source: Chicago Sun Times)