Entries in Eating Habits (5)


Study: Kids Menu Items Not as Nutritious as Grown-Up Food

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(EDINBURGH, Scotland) -- Children who eat the same food as mommy and daddy tend be be healthier than those that eat off the kids menu, according to a new study from the University of Edinburgh.

BBC News reports that the study examined the eating habits of more than 2,000 five-year-olds and their families.

One of the findings was that “child-friendly” meal alternatives are often less nutritious than the main menu.

"Offering separate 'children's food' for a main meal may often result in children missing out nutritionally,” said Valeria Skafida, the author of the paper.

The study also found several other factors that can keep kids healthy and impart them with good eating habits.

How and when families eat makes a big difference. The study found that those who skipped a meal, snacked often, ate their food in a living or bedroom rather than a dining room on a regular basis had worse diets.

Tone makes a difference too. Children were negatively affected when there was an “unpleasant atmosphere” during meals.

The study also found that firstborn children tend to have a healthier diet than siblings who come after them.

The report concluded that more needs to be done to help parents foster good eating habits in their children when they’re young.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Dining Out Poll Reveals Popular Eating and Drinking Habits

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- How many Americans eat at fast food restaurants? How many of them always order dessert when dining out?

Researchers at Monmouth University sought to answer these questions, polling a random sample of  925 adults over the age of 18 to find out their dining preferences.

The poll found that one-third of Americans eat lunch or dinner at fast food restaurants, while 12 percent, or about one in ten, never eat fast food.

Salary didn’t appear to be a factor when it comes to restaurant choice, the poll found, as the participating adults who earn $100,000 were found to be just as likely to eat fast food as those earning less than $50,000.

“For me I thought it was surprising that adults at all incomes are eating fast food,” said Elizabeth Cooner, Assistant Director of the Polling Institute at Monmouth University.

“We don’t’ know what they’re ordering or how much they’re ordering,” said Keith Ayoob,  director of the Nutrition Clinic at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

“Are they going there because it’s a really quick way to get a salad?” he asked, noting the new healthy options that fast food restaurants are offering.

Adults with incomes over $100,000 and recent college grads are also the more likely groups to order a drink when dining out, the poll found.

Twenty-two percent of adults always or often order an alcoholic beverage when dining out, and a little less than half never order one.  Although the adults surveyed were as young as 18, Cooner said that a very small number were under the legal drinking age.

Ayoob says the concern lies in the fact that “young people go out to eat more than eat dinner at home.”   Huge portion sizes and fried food can lead to poor choices, he said.

One in ten diners said they always order dessert, while 42 percent of diners never do.  Diners in the west and southeastern regions of the U.S. are more likely than those in the Midwest to order dessert.

“Portions can vary,” Ayoob said.  ”You don’t know if people are eating the whole thing.  A lot of health conscious people take only a few bites.”

Six out of ten diners were found to be adventurous eaters willing to try anything at least once.

“It did not surprise me that young adults have adventurous palates because there is so much exposure,” said Ayoob, adding that “television channels are dedicated to nothing but food.”

In the only open-ended question in the poll, half of the adults who ate at restaurants preferred Italian, American or Mexican cuisine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sex of Companions Affects Eating Habits

BananaStock/Thinkstock(INDIANA COUNTY, Ind.) -- It's not just the company we keep that influences how much we eat. A new study suggests it's the sex of the people around us that leads us to consume more or less food.

Researchers from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of Akron found that the average number of calories college students consumed varied depending on whether they ate with men, women or a mixed-sex group.

According to the study, on average when men eat with women they tend to consume more calories than when they are eating with other men. In contrast, women tend to consume fewer calories with men than if they were with women.

The study's lead author, Molly Allen-O'Donnell, a graduate student at Indiana University, sat at an eatery on the Indiana campus during lunch and dinner times over a 10-day period. She observed what foods students bought and who their dining companions were.

The results, she explained, suggest that food strongly influences the impressions people form of each other. For white, college-age females, eating less is a way to seem more feminine when men are around, and for college-age males, eating more when around women is a way to appear more masculine. Men, whether unconsciously or consciously, don't want to be seen as light eaters, especially in front of women.

"The theory is you're more aware of gender when you're with the opposite gender and may want to prove your gender more," Cottingham said.

"In a mixed group, women may think they're being judged if they eat more calories," said Keith Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y.

Ayoob says it is also a possibility that women consume more calories when they are with other women because they are more relaxed, or that people eat fewer calories in groups because they are too busy talking and being social and aren’t as focused on eating.

Alex McIntosh, a sociology professor at Texas A&M University in College Station, has done extensive research on eating behavior. He said it's a well-known idea that food helps form strong impressions of people in a variety of situations.

Because of the power of social relationships, they should be considered when educating the public about better nutrition.

But giving people the nutritional information they need is also key, because even though people may eat less or eat healthier around certain groups of people, they may not make the same when they're alone.
"Restraining themselves when in a group doesn't mean that's all the food they're going to consume," said Ayoob. "People may eat very sparingly in a group and then hit the ice cream and chips at home."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Mindless Eating' Suggests Eyes are Bigger than Stomach

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ITHACA, N.Y.) -- Loading your plate with more food than you can possibly eat can suggest that the eyes are sometimes larger than the stomach, so the saying goes.

But chances are you'll be able to wipe that plate clean without even realizing it.

The phenomenon is called mindless eating, coined by psychologist and Cornell University consumer behavior professor Brian Wansink, whose research suggests that our eyes, rather than our stomachs, really do dictate how much we end up eating.

In Wansink's experiment, one group of participants ate from a "bottomless bowl," one that was mechanically refilled from the bottom unknowing to the participant. The second group ate from a regular bowl of food that was not refilled once finished.

Those who ate out of the "bottomless bowls," ate 73 percent more before claiming to be full than those who ate from bowls that emptied.

Many gauge their level of fullness by an empty plate, rather than a full stomach, said Wansink, author of the book, "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think." The more they saw, the more they ate. Wansink suggests that this type of mindless eating contributes to unhealthier eating habits and unnecessary weight gain.

In 2007, Wansink's work earned him the Ig Nobel prize, a humorous spinoff of the Nobel Prize.

Since plate size can influence how much a person eats, Wansink recommends using salad plates instead of dinner plates for any meal. Wansink also recommends keeping unhealthy foods out of immediate view, and eating in a dining room rather than in front of the TV, which can help you lose track of how much you've eaten.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Do Dad's Food Choices Affect the Whole Family?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Sitting down with the family for a home-cooked meal continues to become a thing of the past.  According to the USDA, Americans spend about 50 percent of their food budget in restaurants. 

A Texas A&M University study surveyed over 300 families with children living in Houston about their eating habits.  The researchers found that factors associated with eating out a lot included parental work schedules, the time kids spent in the family car, and the father's use of fast food and full-service restaurants. 

The authors of the study, published in the Journal of Nutrition and Behavior, were surprised by the last association, but they conclude that since dads seem to be so influential, they "should be encouraged to model healthful food choices when they obtain food and to eat with children at home."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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