Dietary Habits of Parents and Non-parents: Good Role Models?


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Advertising and Children

Parenthood may not change your eating habits for the better: Image by Mark Gordon

Decoded Science had the opportunity to ask Dr. Laroche about some of the implications of her research. When asked about limiting advertising to children, Dr. Laroche stated that she  supports “regulation of advertising of non-nutritive products to young  children (in other words high sugar, high saturated fat products with little  other nutrition benefits – for example soda, candy bars, fruit drinks with  little actual fruit juices, some high fat snack foods).”

The researchers compared the findings of the American study with similar studies done in Denmark and Finland. In those countries, the mother’s diets were found to be more healthy than that of non-parents – saturated fat intake, for example, was lower in mothers than in non-parents. The paper mentions that those countries offer extended parental leave as a possible explanation.  Laroche also noted that advertising to children was more restricted in Europe generally.

Hispanic Parents and Diet

As the Hispanic population grows, the lack of data on Hispanic parents eating habits is disappointing. The rate of obesity in Hispanics has risen from 21% in 1982 to over 40% in 2012.  Reaching a population who may not speak English may prove more challenging for health departments, and other entities interested in improving nutrition.

Meanwhile, it is heartening that parents, with all the stresses of child rearing, are not caving in to the urge to pick up fast food more frequently than their childless peers. On the other hand, offering more societal support by regulating advertising to children might make the trip to the grocery store less stressful, and more healthful for parents and children alike.


Laroche, H. et. al. Changes in Diet Behavior when Adults Become Parents. (2012)Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Volume 112/Issue 6. Accessed May 8, 2012.

Preidt, R. Obesity Rates Rise Among Mexican-Americans: Report. (2012). Health Day. Accessed May 8, 2012.

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