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Family food environments as determinants of preschool-aged children`s eating behaviours: implications for obesity prevention policy. A review.
journal contributionposted on 2001-01-01, 00:00 authored by Karen CampbellKaren Campbell, David CrawfordDavid Crawford
Children's eating behaviours are fundamental to their health. Dietary surveys indicate that children's food consumption is likely to promote a range of diet-related diseases, including overweight and obesity, which are associated with a range of psychosocial and physical disorders. With the prevalence of overweight and obesity rapidly increasing, opportunities for informed prevention have become a focus of strategy. Diet is recognised as important in the genesis of obesity. We present data that demonstrate that eating behaviours are likely to be established early in life and may be maintained into adulthood. We review literature that shows that children's eating behaviours are influenced by the family food environment. These findings suggest that the family environment should be considered in developing obesity prevention strategy for children, yet the current strategy focuses primarily on the school environment. Those factors in the family environment that appear to be important include: parental food preferences and beliefs, children's food exposure; role modelling; media exposure; and child-parent interactions around food. However, the existing data are based on small scale and unrepresentative US samples. At a population level, we have few insights regarding family food environments and consequently little information about how such environments influence children's eating behaviours and thus their risk for obesity. We suggest research that may promote a better understanding of the role of family food environments as determinants of children's eating behaviour, and consider the implications for obesity prevention in Australia. (Aust J Nutr Diet 2001;58:19-25)