Friday, 24 August 2012

How family affects our eating habits

In the current climate, we are taking on more and working longer hours to keep our jobs and put food on the table, but at what cost to our family’s health?

Research by the Temple’s Center for Obesity Research and Education has investigated this work/family conflict focusing on both parents’ employment status and those with adolescents in particular. Findings have revealed that parents who work full-time, compared to those who work part time or stay at home, have fewer family meals, are more likely to indulge in fast food as a family, spend less time on food preparation and are less likely to encourage their adolescents to eat healthily. The adolescents then in turn eat less fruit and vegetables. Regardless of employment status, the only difference between mothers and fathers was that men reported far less hours of food preparation than women.

When considering the relationship between work and stress on our eating habits, it seems it can have a hugely negative impact on our children’s health. Indeed, parents with high levels of stress compared to those with low stress, revealed they had one and a half less family meals per week and ate half a serving less of fruit and vegetables each day.

The findings of this study, recently published online in Social Science and Medicine, suggest parents need assistance in providing healthy and realistic meals to their family which can be maintained, considering the pressures of modern day parenting. One solution put forward is that parents teach children to cook their own healthy meals which will not only benefit them now but in the future when they have their own families.

First Psychology Scotland has centres in the following locations: Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,
Borders: 01896-800-400,
Aberdeen: 01224-452-848,

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