Three Factor That Influences in Children’s Food Choices; Familial Changes, Food Packaging, and Advertising

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Childhood obesity is a problem not just in a few countries but worldwide. Overweight or obese children and adolescents have the same medical problems as adults, such as hypertension as well as in psychological problems, such as depression. Furthermore, Anderson & Butcher (2006) stated that increasing childhood obesity is related to increasing adult obesity which suggest that obese children are at an increased risk of becoming obese in adulthood. This is one more reason that obesity in children is a serious problem in society. Food choice may be defined as “a complex human behavior influenced by many interrelating factors including marketing and economic variables as well as social, psychological, cultural, biological, religious, and demographic factors” (Pierre, Receveur, Macaulay, & Montour, 2007). Familial changes and marketing strategies, such as food television advertising or using characters in food packaging, are likely to contribute to rising obesity rates. This essay will argue that the role of parents in children food choices as well as familial changes which may occur, have an influence on children and adolescent food choices. Further, it will examine the extent of food marketing and impact to their food choices.

It is clear that there are many variables within the family setting that can affect children’s eating behavior (Johannsen, Johannsen, & Specker, 2005). According to Johannsen et al (2005) research, children’s eating behavior and their parent’s eating behavior are not related. In contrast, Scaglioni, Salvioni, & Galimberti (2008) found that the parents influences their children’s environment that may developing healthy eating behaviours in children. This is same statement with Childers & Hoy (2012) :

“Parents and guardians, specifically those with younger children, are ultimately the true gatekeepers for much of their children’s food and beverage consumption. Parents not only have responsibility for grocery purchasing, meal planning, and are the final decision makers on eating outside the home, but they also impact family eating attitudes, food preferences, and when meals occur” (p.112)

The problems is when family structure changes. Because of familial changes, parents may not be able to monitor their children’s eating habits. Wayland & Joe (1994) imply that the traditional family is defined as a husband, wife, and children under 18, but now the family structure is changing. Furthermore, the changes in family also influences the number of teenagers doing household duties such as shopping for the family. Childres & Hoy (2012) also stated that children from single-parent households are significantly more likely to go on independent shopping trips and buy things compared with children from traditional households. The problem is when children left alone to choose a meal, they will choose a large amount of food of poor nutritional value (Klesger, Stein, Eck, Isbell, & Klesger, 1991). This behavior may lead to the childhood obesity. In contrast, when the children were informed that parents would be monitoring the meal they selected, children intend to choosing more healthier food. The poor nutritional food choices are foods high in sugar, saturated fatty acids, and sodium, or usually called by “extra foods”. “Extra food”, according to the examples listed in the AGHE (cited in Rangan, Randall, Hector, Gill, & Webb, 2008) it includes biscuits, soft drinks, cakes, ice cream, hot chips, pies, fast foods, and chocolate. Indeed, over consumption of “extra food” causes weight gain in children and may lead to obesity. This is clear that children need to be monitored when they choose their own meal because without parent monitoring, they may choose “extra foods” more than nutritional one. However, Childres & Hoy (2012) found in their research that children who live in single-parent households in Turkey do not have more chance to purchasing their own food. Single mothers...
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