Kids’ ‘pester power’ can promote healthy family eating habits

A study by researchers suggests that nutritional lessons learned in the classroom support healthy food habits that stick with kids when at home and grocery shopping with their parents.

In the study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior​, researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Louisiana tech University studied classrooms that delivered weekly Together, We Inspire Healthy Eating (WISE)​ lessons at seven Head Start sites across two states in the southern United States.

After one full school year of weekly WISE lessons, researchers conducted interviews with the children’s parents to determine if the nutritional lessons and positive health habits taught at school had any influence outside of the classroom.

“We asked parents how often they experience pester power. And we also asked them about their dietary habits before and after the intervention – their intake of fruits and vegetables, their intake of nutrient poor foods, and also their parenting behaviors that support healthy diets for their children,” ​said lead study author Taren Swindle, PhD, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

“The more pester power that parents were exposed to from their children, the greater we saw changes in the desired direction for intake of fruits and vegetables and also supportive parenting practices,” ​she said.

“It means that children’s influence on their homes may be an underdeveloped potential target for future interventions.”

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