Patient Education

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Healthy Eating in Children: Things That Influence Food Choices

Overview

Children may develop poor eating habits for several reasons, including:

Available food choices.
  • If candy and soft drinks are available, most children will choose these rather than healthier foods.
  • Fast foods and processed foods are widely available. But they usually contain few or no fruits or vegetables, and they often have a lot of salt, sugar, or fat.
  • Fast-food restaurants offer large portions that can lead children to eat more than their bodies need.
Food marketing.

Marketing creates a desire for less-than-healthy foods.

  • Foods advertised during children's TV shows tend to have very little nutritional value.
  • Marketing often targets children through tie-ins between movies, fast-food restaurants, and toys.
  • Snack foods are marketed for their fun and taste, not for their nutritional value.
The need for personal choice.

Power struggles between a parent and child can affect eating behavior. If children are pressured to eat a certain food, they are more likely to refuse to eat that food, even if it is something they usually would enjoy.

Emotions.

Sadness, anxiety, or a family crisis can cause a child to undereat or overeat. Trying to resolve the emotional problem may work better than focusing on the eating behavior.

Credits

Current as of: May 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator