Your Health: Studying Mealtime
Published December 19th, 2013
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Food temptation is everywhere. With the holiday season in full swing, it's easy to make some less-than-healthy decisions.
But for parents, dietary decisions affect more than just their own waistline. New research aims to measure the impact those decisions can have on children.
Researchers at UF Health are beginning a new study investigating how interactions between parents and children can impact eating behaviors.
They hope this resarch could provide more information to help parents teach the right habits before it's too late.
"There's been a growing concern within the medical community and with parents about the quality of children's eating habits," says Dr. David Janicke, an Associate Professor of clinical and health psychology at the University of Florida. He's part of a team of researchers that will investigate how mother-child interaction impacts mealtime.
The study could provide valuable information for families struggling with an obesity epidemic affecting both adults and children in the US.
In a videotaped session, a mother and her child will have 10 minutes of free play then be provided a meal.
"A lot of research has really looked at what is served and how foods are prepared," Janicke says, "But there's not a lot of research looking at family dynamics and interactions between parents and kids, not only during meal time, but also when they're playing and interacting as a family."
Janicke says sometimes actions can speak louder than words.
"The quality of mealtime and the emotional atmosphere is really important for how kids eat and how they actually learn," he says.
Encouraging good behavior, and ultimately leading by example can be some of the best ways to teach your children healthy habits.
"We can give as many reasons as we want, but ultimately what they see us doing is going to have the biggest impact," Janicke says.
The research team is looking for mothers and their young children to participate in the study. For more information about the study or to enroll, call the UF Health Pediatric Psychology Lab at (352) 273-5285
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