Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Kids affecting their parents' diet

NY Times reports:
Adults who live with children eat more fat, and more saturated fat, than those who do not, according to a new study.

The report, published online last week in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, was based on data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey, a six-year nationwide study of more than 33,000 people carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study authors argue that parents are picking up bad eating habits from their kids. Their main example is that parents eat more cheese than other adults.

But cheese is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. The study found that parents do not consume more calories than non-parents. It found that parents consume more fat, but consumption is still within guidelines.

The research paper says:
The epidemic of obesity and lifestyle-related chronic diseases is fundamentally tied to Americans' poor eating habits. As measured in the National Health and Nutition Examination Survey (NHANES), the percentage of calories from fat decreased from 36% to 33% and saturated fat from 13% to 11% from 1971 to 2000. ... Overall, Americans remain above guidelines for consumption of saturated fat and total fat. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommends that adults maintain their total fat intake between 20% and 35% of caloric intake ...
33% fat may seem like a lot, but if the USDA guidelines recommend 20% to 35% fat, then 33% is within guidelines. Someone eating 33% fat is likely to be healthier than someone eating 19% fat, if these guidelines are accurate.

Some people falsely assume that less dietary fat is always better. It is not. If it were, then the guideline would be 0% fat, or 0% to 10% fat. In fact, most obese people got fat by eating excessive carbohydrates, not fat. They would have been better off if their caloric intake had a higher percentage of fat, not lower. Children especially need to eat fat.

I think that it is quite possible, based on this data, that kids induce parents to eat more nutritious meals. Parents go out of their way to make healthy and nutritious meals for their kids, and then eat them themselves.

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