Parental styles and work schedules may have a significant influence on the diet of the whole family. In a major breakthrough scientists found that work schedules of parent’s, design children’s use of and time spent in fast-food and full-service restaurants. It was even mentioned that Americans probably spend about half of their food budget in restaurants.
In the course of the study, experts interviewed parents and children aged 9-11 and 13-15 from 312 families in Houston, TX. The interview surrounded questions on parental work schedules, parenting style, family meal ritual perceptions, and time children spent in an automobile with their parents. Factors linked to more time spent in fast-food and full-service restaurants apparently included both parents having standard work schedules, fathers’ use of these types of restaurants, and children’s time spent in the family automobile.
“Since dietary behaviors, like relying on food away from home and eating fast food, have been shown to track from childhood through adolescence into young adulthood, fathers should be encouraged to model healthful food choices when they obtain food and to eat with children at home. After all, fathers who believe that dinner is an important family ritual reduce children’s use of fast food; this perception should also be encouraged among fathers,” said, Dr. Alex McIntosh, PhD, Professor at Texas A&M University.
In conclusion, it was suggested that the use of and time spent in both fast-food and full-service restaurants by children is strongly associated with use of and time in restaurants by their fathers. The study highlights the need to identify determinants that raise the usage of restaurants in families’ dining habits. The dietary quality of children may be influenced by the manner in which parents interact with their children, time available for family meals, and the role restaurants play in their lives.
The study is published in the May/June 2011 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.