Fathers Have Outsize Influence on Their Children’s Eating Habits

  • Fathers’ perceptions of dinner were critical in where dinner is actually held, whereas mothers’ perceptions did not have the same effect. “The more fathers feel that dinner is important, the less likely they will eat at a fast food restaurant,” McIntosh, a Texas A&M AgriLife sociologist, told the Bryan-College Station Eagle.
  • Fathers’ decisions to eat at fast-food and full-service restaurants influenced how often their children wanted to eat at those types of restaurants. “Fathers have greater influence in the consumption of fast food than mothers do,” McIntyre said. “When a father is more likely to eat it, the child is more likely.”
  • Fathers are more likely than mothers to opt for fast food restaurants when eating out with their children. The researchers suspect that this is due to the fathers wanting to make children happy whereas mothers tend to focus on encouraging sound nutritionally choices.
  • Fathers’ personal preference may be a key factor since they tend to determine where and when the family goes out to eat. (In my own experience, this makes sense. During my childhood, I remember that Dad was the one who most often determined the choice of restaurant with Mom taking the back seat in the decision. My brother and I got a say in this choice primarily on our birthdays.)
  • Fathers who excessively eat fast food and who don’t participate in many daily exercises often influence their children’s diet and activity level.

So what can fathers do to make a different? Here are my thoughts:

  • First of all, fathers can start picking sit-down restaurants instead of fast-food options. And even if they do take their children to a fast-food restaurant, fathers can encouraging their children to select the healthier fare (and should serve as a role model by ordering these healthier meals as well.)
  • Fathers can start learning about nutrition issues, which will help them become more discerning customers as more restaurant chains start making this information readily available.
  • Fathers can start cooking meals with their children, thus having fun and eating in. The father can bond with his children during the preparation (which can be lots of fun – build a pizza, anyone?). And all family members get the benefit of a healthier meal and quality family time.
  • Fathers need to really stop and analyze their own activity level and see how they can involve their children in these activities. Summer is an ideal time to do this, what with the longer days and summer vacations.

Fathers really need to embrace the influence they have on their children’s diet and activity levels. By taking these actions, they can help their children celebrate Father’s Day all year long.

By Dorian Martin
http://www.healthcentral.com/diet-exercise/c/896502/140284/influence/2?ic=2601

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