Study highlights the potential for children to influence food consumption and habits at home

Children's pester power may contribute to improvements in their family's food environments. A new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, published by Elsevier, highlights the potential for children to influence food consumption and habits at home.

Researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Louisiana Tech University studied classrooms that delivered weekly Together, We Inspire Healthy Eating (WISE) lessons at seven Head Start sites across two states in the southern United States.

The study demonstrated that children's pester power explained a significant portion of the variance in the residual change of children's dietary intake and parenting practices after one school year of exposure to the WISE intervention.

The more pester power that parents were exposed to from their children, the greater we saw changes in the desired direction for intake of fruits and vegetables and also supportive parenting practices. It means that children's influence on their homes may be an underdeveloped potential target for future interventions."

Taren Swindle, PhD, Study Lead Author and Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas

The pester power of children is well documented in marketing and advertising research and is increasingly being considered in regard to the nutritional habits and obesogenic environments of children. Future studies can provide insight into which components of educational programs specifically predict successful pester power.

"I like to think of this as hypothesis-generating work. It suggests a really promising area for future exploration," Prof. Swindle said.

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