Who Influences Kids’ Eating Habits Most?

The following is an archived post

It should come as no huge surprise that parents are the most influential role models for children. This is especially true when it comes to healthy habits. A study by the American Dietetic Association Foundation showed parents have more potential to influence their children’s behavior, including their eating habits, than anyone else. In fact, parents outranked sports celebrities as the person the child “would like to be most.”

This is why it not only important for parents to serve healthy foods in the home, but to also eat a variety of healthy foods themselves, truly modeling this behavior for their children.Other factors play a role, of course. As children enter their teenage years, friends and peers become central in decision-making. When it comes to eating, there is often a shift between meals shared at home and meals shared with friends.

Schools play a significant role as well, especially if children are eating a number of meals and snacks at school, from both a food (what is actually offered) and education (what foods and habits are promoted) perspective.

So while the foundation of healthy habits begins at home, schools are in a unique position as conveners. What I mean by that is the school has the advantage of having relationships with most of the parties that influence children and the ability to bring those parties together.

Foodservice providers can be a driving force within a school to “convene.” FISD, for example, works not only with students but also with administrators, faculty, staff and parents to bring food, nutrition and health concepts beyond the dining hall to the classroom and to the school community at large.

This community approach to food is fundamental to our food and nutrition philosophy and truly ensures greater chances for success when promoting healthy eating to children. Those who play a role in a child’s life should be on the same page (to a reasonable degree) when it comes to these concepts in order to provide consistent, positive messages and to encourage healthy behaviors.


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