Family and Personal Predictors of Early Adolescent Eating Patterns
Brown, Stephen L.
Gautam, Yuba R.
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Many early adolescents report consuming less than the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and up to one-third report skipping breakfast. Recent research suggests that children consider parents to be the gatekeepers of food choices, and that parents are important role models for children's eating behaviors. This study examined perceived control over food choices, familial communication regarding healthy eating, and preferred sources of information about healthy eating in relation to eating behaviors. Data were obtained from 959 early adolescents attending health programs in the Midwest. Early adolescents who reported more frequent family discussions were more likely to report eating two or more vegetables per day (AOR=1.4, p<.05), three or more fruits per day (AOR=1.6, p<.05), and five or more vegetables and/or fruits per day (AOR=1.9, p<.05) than early adolescents who reported less family discussions. Those exposed to more frequent family discussions were also more likely to report usually eating breakfast (AOR=1.8, p<.05). Older children were less likely to report eating breakfast (AOR=0.2 for ages 12 and13 compared to age 9, p<.05). Although healthy eating behaviors decline with age, children and adolescents whose families reinforce healthy eating patterns appear more likely to maintain healthy patterns.