Kids Trump Parents in Healthy Behaviors

Healthy diet and physical activity a higher priority for kids than for parents

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Parents think a lot about exercise and a healthy diet – when it comes to their kids. But a recent survey revealed they’re less likely to take care of themselves than non-parents.

They survey found that parents report less healthy diet and exercise views than non-parents.

In fact, two-thirds of parents worry more about their kids' diets than their own.

"Parents: take care of yourself too."

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation's 2012 Food and Health Survey involved interviews with 1,057 individuals.

Almost a third – 29 percent – of the respondents were adults between the ages of 18 and 49 with children under age 18 at home.

For the most part, the researchers found that the perspectives of parents and non-parents did not differ much.

However, certain aspects of the survey revealed areas where parents faced different situations than the non-parents with regards to healthy diets and exercise.

For example, fewer parents – 16 percent – reported that they have a "very or extremely" healthful diet, compared to almost a quarter (23 percent) of those who do not have children under 18 at home.

Similarly, parents were also more likely to be obese. While over a third of parents (36 percent) were obese, only 28 percent of non-parents were.

Unsurprisingly, then, more parents (60 percent) reported that they are trying to lose weight than those who don't have kids (55 percent).

Additionally, non-parents were more likely to believe that the amount of exercise they get is beneficial for their health, and they were more likely to have a vigorous level of physical activity (12 percent of parents compared to 17 percent of non-parents).

About 58 percent of parents said they think a lot about how much exercise they get, compared to 66 percent of the non-parents. And 68 percent of the non-parents said physical activity offers an important bonus to their health, compared to 58 percent of the parents.

When it came to diet, fewer parents reported taking into account how healthy food is when shopping. Among non-parents, 63 percent consider healthfulness as an important decision point in buying their food, but only 54 percent of parents said so.

Yet parents appear to care more about the safety of the food they buy. Less than half of the non-parents (43 percent) were concerned about food-borne illnesses in buying their food, compared to 54 percent of parents.

Similarly, almost half of the parents (49 percent) were concerned about how safe imported foods were, compared to 38 percent of non-parents.

Also, 40 percent of parents were more likely to buy products labeled with the word "natural" compared to the 32 percent of non-parents who said that was important to them.

In reading other labels, though, non-parents were more likely than parents to check expiration dates and to read the Nutrition Facts, ingredient lists and preparation instructions.

This is where the differences end. The survey did not reveal any differences between the two groups regarding the value they place on taste, price, convenience and sustainability, or in terms of concerns about pesticides, chemicals, antibiotics or allergens in their food.

Overall, the researchers concluded that parents may be concerned about a healthy diet and physical activity, but many are more concerned about those issues for their children than for themselves.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 19, 2012
Last Updated:
November 23, 2012