Thursday, April 24, 2008

Should Parents Be Blamed For the Unhealthy Diet of Their Boys?

If your children love fries or other unhealthy stuffs, perhaps you as parents are the first to be blamed! Why do I say that?

This is because while I was searching for some health news last week, I saw the finding of a joint study done by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The researchers from the two institutions evaluated the eating patterns of 792 twins aged 7 years old, and found that genetics mostly dictates a child’s picky palate and craving for items like peanut butter or snack food.

In order to conduct the study, the researchers grouped foods into 9 categories, namely

1. bread and butter;
2. breakfast cereal and milk;
3. candy;
4. fish and lemon; and
5. fruit;
6. high-salt snack foods,
7. peanut butter and jelly;
8. red meat and pork;
9. vegetables

According to the study, the genetics seemed to influence the choice of food and beverages of the boys more often than that of the girls. Furthermore, identical twins, who have the exact same genes, seemed to choose more similar foods and beverages than the non-identical twins. On the other hand, the food choices of girls were more influenced by the shared environmental factors, like the number of snacks at home.

With the help of these findings, parents would perhaps understand why their children prefer or dislike certain foods. The findings are also important since they could help scientists determine whether genetically linked eating patterns play a role in childhood obesity.

Childhood obesity is now a big health issue facing many countries. Health experts believe that childhood obesity will bring more serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. to these fat children when they grow older. In addition, many countries may have to shoulder the impending huge health cost associated with this.

This study also revealed that the body mass index of a child is generally unrelated to his or her specific food consumption. Nevertheless, the researchers too suggested carrying out further studies to determine if genetically influenced eating habits would actually result in calorie and nutrition changes that lead to obesity.

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