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Study Shows that Teens Factor-in the Essence of Health When Eating

The latest revelation by Stanford researchers reveals that teenagers actually pay attention to what they are told by their parents about health-conscious eating habits. By enforcing health-based food rules at home, the researchers say that the children are more likely to embrace the traditions when they are on their own.

Importantly, the latest revelation will be of great benefit for parents who want their kids to eat more vegetables

Jennifer Wang and Priya Fielding-Singh, Stanford doctoral candidates published in May 14 on the Journal of Adolescent Health that is important for parents to understand the impact of having healthy food rules around the home and just how those rules can promote healthy eating.

The pair of researchers found that rules centered around health are most effective because they emphasize the importance of considering the healthiness of specific foods, thus helping teens taking more informed decisions when picking out their meals.

Notably, they recommended that parents should provide breaks where the whole family engages in junk food on a couple of special occasions. Other habits like banning the use of cellphones around the dinner table had no profound effect on how the teenagers made informed food choices.


In the study, the researchers surveyed a total of 1,246 adolescents in the diverse San Francisco Bay Area high school. Students were quizzed about a number of pertinent issues like their dietary beliefs and behaviors, including how they perceived their parental attitudes and how home practices influence their food choices.

Fielding-Singh noted that most adults are not cognizant of the fact that teenagers are fully aware of the healthiness of what they are consuming

Despite the relative success of the study, Wang and Fielding-Singh pressed on as they sought to find out how teens behave when they believe that their parents are not around to monitor what they do. Intentionally, they wanted to find out how teens land upon their food choices when they are going solo.

This led the two researchers to formulate a controlled experiment. In the experiment, the high schoolers were told that their participation in the study automatically qualified them to a raffle where they could win snacks of their choice for collection at their school offices the next week. Prior to the announcement, both students and teachers were unaware of any snack raffles on offer.

The researchers then implemented numerous conditions to try to manipulate whether teenagers believed their parents would approve of their snack choices. More specifically, in one of the settings, students were told that they required parental consent before they could collect their snacks. Elsewhere, students were told that they could have their pick of the snacks without needing to seek parental consent.


Students were presented with 10 snacks, 5 of which were healthy snacks and 5 which weren’t. The snacks included apple slices, oreo cookies, gummy worms, yogurt, Cheetos and hummus with pretzels. From the selection available, students were then asked to pick out which snacks they wanted to go with.

Their study showed that teenagers who had at least one food rule at home were more likely to feel good when they made health-oriented choices and feel bead when they made unhealthy choices

Consequently, Wang made the conclusion that by implementing some food rules, parents at home were helping shape teens behavior, even when they were not in the vicinity. The study provided extra data on Fielding-Singh and Wang’s earlier research that established that socioeconomic differences in the manner adolescents and mothers discuss food. Following the discrepancies, they wanted to establish whether parents had any influences on their adolescent teenagers’ food choices.

Just like in the previous research, the researchers established that some factors also affected the how efficient parents could communicate with their kids about making health-conscious eating decisions. Gender, age and parental education as factors led to the realization that females, those in higher grades and parents with higher levels of education were likely to influence the adherence to home rules about eating healthy.

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