Kids mimic parents’ diets from an early age

Reuters Tue November 4, 2008

Parents who want their preschoolers to eat their vegetables may need to take a hard look at their own eating habits, new research suggests. In a study of 120 young children who were allowed to “buy” food from a play grocery store, researchers found that even 2-year-olds tended to mirror their parents’ usual food choices. Children who stocked up on sweets, sugary drinks and salty snacks generally had parents whose typical grocery list featured such items. Similarly, children with the healthiest shopping habits seemed to be following their parents’ lead as well.

The findings, reported in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, suggest that even very young children do not indiscriminately reach for candy when given the chance. Instead, they seem to already be forming food preferences — potentially lasting ones — based on their parents’ shopping carts.