Working Too Much and Eating Out More

Parents are extremely influential on children’s dietary behavior

(RxWiki News) It is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to go to work, then come home and make dinner, and spend quality time with the family. Frequently, 'making dinner' gets cut for quicker options.

Parents are resorting to fast food and full service restaurants instead of making dinner. Restaurant foods are usually higher in calories, fat and sodium, but much more convenient. Researchers are exploring how work schedules and parenting styles influence a child’s use of and time spent in restaurants.

"Make time to eat dinner at home."

The Department of Sociology from Texas A&M studied the relationship between eating out and parents work and teaching methods. Participants were interviewed to determine work schedules, parenting style, family meal ritual perception, and time children spent in automobile with parents.

The results indicated children were more likely to eat out when both parents had a standard work schedule, father’s use of and time spent in restaurants was higher, and children’s time spent in automobiles was higher.

Dietary behavior comes from parents influence. Children see the way their parents are and imitate it. There was a stronger association between a father’s use of and time spent in restaurants than mothers, so father’s should be more aware of dietary habits.

Parents should interact more with their children and make time for family meals to help children have better eating habits when they get older. Moreover, fathers should encourage more healthful eating choices.

The Study

  • Texas A&M, Department of Sociology
  • 312 families interviewed; children ages 9-11 and 13-15
  • Questions measured work schedules, parenting style, family meal ritual perception, time children spent in automobile with parents
  • Children spent more time at fast food and full service restaurants when both parents had standard (9-5) work schedules, father’s use of restaurants, and children’s time spent in automobile
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Review Date: 
May 6, 2011