If parents eat healthily, so do kids

Feb. 16, 2009 at 5:28 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The old rhyme "Monkey see, monkey do" appears to be true as U.S. researchers say teens are 40 percent more likely to drink soda if their parents do.

The survey, conducted by the Center for Health Policy Research at the University of California in Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research, also finds teens are 16 percent more likely to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day if their parents do.

"Good dietary habits start at home," study co-author Susan Babey says in a statement. "If parents are eating poorly, chances are their kids are too."

Drawing upon the responses of thousands of California teenagers queried by the center-administered California Health Interview Survey, the researchers say 48 percent of the teens, whose parents drink soda every day, eat fast-food at least once a day. Thirty-nine percent of teens whose parents do not drink soda eat fast-food at least once daily.

"While parents are the primary role models for their children and their behavior can positively -- or negatively -- influence their children's health," said Dr. Robert Ross, president of the California Endowment, which funded the study.

"It is also essential that local officials representing low-income communities work to expand access to fruits, vegetables and other healthful foods."

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