You are forever in a rush, with no time to sit down and complete your breakfast. You rush every morning to office with just a toast in your hand, that you plan to nibble on your way. But did you know your toddler who was watching your ‘eating on the run’ move, will soon mimic your eating habits?
Recent studies show a strong co-relation between the father’s choice and attitude towards food with the child’s food preferences. We, at KLAY recommend, if you notice your child is not following regular eating hours or has a very pronounced craving for unhealthy treats, it is perhaps time to turn the spotlight on the child’s father and examine his eating habits.
According to Pediatrics for Parents, “The mother of the household is often viewed as the primary parent in charge of childcare activities such as meal preparation. Fathers hence believe their own eating trends and attitudes toward food are not carefully watched and copied by children.” However, researchers show how children tend to dine more often at fast food restaurants chains depending on what their fathers prefer. A mother’s choice does not have much of an impact, as fathers mostly make choice of where to go out, even for a family dinner.
If a family often hits a burger or pizza joint as a quick and easy lunch or dinner option, chances are, going there was the father’s decision, as men like a quick bite with their children. Fathers who consistently consume junk food and do not exercise are more likely to pass this behaviour to their children unknowingly. The US National Library of Medicine found genes in the father’s sperm that result in an increased appetite during brain development in a child. A child takes the same biological handprint as the father, which can lead to the child inheriting the same appetite control and eating habits of the dad. Dr Jess Haines, who is involved in this research project, says “the father’s role is very important in raising healthy kids. Small changes like choosing a fruit or vegetables as daytime snack, can really influence a child’s eating habits.”
In fact, 70 per cent of chronic health conditions, including obesity in adult males, can be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyles. This includes a 30-minute walk daily, jogging, cardio exercises like taking the stairs instead of using a lift or doing free-hand exercises, yoga etc. Kids too, will be inspired to follow their dads and accompany them on their trail, leading to good health for both.
KLAY suggests if you are keen to change the diet habits of your children and replace unhealthy junk food with fresh vegetables, fruits, pulses, cereals, milk and other dairy products, then take the fathers into the loop first.
With children out of school, physical distancing as the new norm, and children’s rights under threat, the new world order has “turned back the clock” on years of progress made on children’s well-being. However, it’s not all bad. As a human race, we’ve been built to adapt: we’ve seen a tipping point in technology-enabled education and the promise of a new education policy in our country.