Healthy Eating in Children: Things That Influence Food Choices

Overview

Children may develop poor eating habits for several reasons, including:

Available food choices.
  • If candy and soft drinks are available, most children will choose these rather than healthier foods.
  • Fast foods and processed foods are widely available. But they usually contain few or no fruits or vegetables, and they often have a lot of salt, sugar, or fat.
  • Fast-food restaurants offer large portions that can lead children to eat more than their bodies need.
Food marketing.

Marketing creates a desire for less-than-healthy foods.

  • Foods advertised during children's TV shows tend to have very little nutritional value.
  • Marketing often targets children through tie-ins between movies, fast-food restaurants, and toys.
  • Snack foods are marketed for their fun and taste, not for their nutritional value.
The need for personal choice.

Power struggles between a parent and child can affect eating behavior. If children are pressured to eat a certain food, they are more likely to refuse to eat that food, even if it is something they usually would enjoy.

Emotions.

Sadness, anxiety, or a family crisis can cause a child to undereat or overeat. Trying to resolve the emotional problem may work better than focusing on the eating behavior.

Credits

Current as of: September 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator

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This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.