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Parents focus on kids, neglect own diet and exercise needs

Parents focus on kids, neglect their own health

Parents focus on kids, neglect their own health and nutrition needs, according to a new survey. (Credit: Handout)

While you're focused on your child's health and nutrition needs, you may be forgoing your own.

According to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation's 2012 Food & Health Survey, parents with children younger than 18 are so focused on their children's health that they're less likely to think about their own.

"Parents are being responsible and conscientious when it comes to the needs of their children, but less so in terms of their own health,” said Marianne Smith Edge, senior vice president, Nutrition and Food Safety, IFIC Foundation. “In some ways, parents have significantly different beliefs and priorities than non-parents, and these differences are important in terms of designing effective messaging to better equip them to achieve a more healthful lifestyle.”


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A majority (87 percent) of parents believe that it is good for their overall well-being to sit down and eat meals with their family.

"Parents can positively impact their own health and that of their children by basing meals on nutrient-rich foods with fewer calories, such as fruits and vegetables, whole and enriched grains, lean meats, beans and nuts, and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods," said Smith Edge.

The holidays also are a time to realize that fun activities count as exercise and make a habit of getting active as a family, whether it’s collecting donations for a local food bank, dancing around the house or simply taking a walk in the neighborhood to enjoy the holiday decorations, she said. 

Of the 1,057 participants in the survey, 29 percent were adults ages 18-49 with children younger than 18. There are a few significant differences between parents' and non-parents' dietary views. Here's what the survey found:

*Only 16 percent of parents think they have a very or extremely healthful diet, compared to 23 percent of non-parents.

*Parents (36 percent) are more likely to be obese than non-parents (28 percent); More parents (60 percent) are trying to lose weight than non-parents (55 percent).

*Although both groups hold similar views about the importance of taste, price, convenience and sustainability in food buying decisions, parents (54 percent) are less likely than non-parents (63 percent) to say that healthfulness has a strong impact on their decisions about what to buy.

*While parents and non-parents are just as likely to buy foods advertised as local or organic, come in recyclable packaging, generate donations to charitable causes or rate high in terms of sustainability, parents are more likely than non-parents (40 percent vs. 32 percent) to buy food with the word “natural” on the label on a regular basis.

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