RALEIGH, N.C. — The childhood obesity epidemic has been linked to such factors as high- fat, high-sugar diets, too much television and not enough exercise.
A new study from the University of Tennessee suggests that moms may have more influence over children's eating habits and their weight than they think.
The study suggests that children's food preferences, and ultimately their eating habits, are strongly influenced by what their mothers like to eat.
According to researchers, children most liked the foods they were offered at home. They tended not to like foods their mothers did not like and did not offer.
Of the top 24 disliked foods, 17 were vegetables. The most-liked foods tended to be desserts, breads and snack foods like chips and cookies and fast food -- all of which tend to be high in calories and many are low in nutrients.
What can you do to send a healthy message?
Try to offer a variety of fruits and vegetables with meals and snacks. Even if you do not like particular vegetables, offer them to your children anyway. There is no need to cook, many children prefer raw fruits and vegetables. Pay attention to what you drink. If soft drinks are your favorite, you may want to drink them away from home and opt for milk or water at home so your kids will, too.
The same applies for desserts and fast food. Limit the amount you eat, so your children will get the message that these foods should be enjoyed once in a while.