Study Says A Majority of Parents Become Their Kids' Personal Chef

Parents have found themselves with yet another job — being their child’s personal chef.

Three in five parents cook specialized meals for their kids if they don’t like what the rest of their family is eating, according to the National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. The poll surveyed 1,083 parents with children ages 3 to 10. 

“Feeding young children can be difficult due to general pickiness, hesitancy to try unfamiliar foods and constantly evolving food preferences,” Dr. Susan Woolford, Mott Poll co-director and Mott pediatrician, said in a press release.

This adaptive strategy could backfire, experts warned. 

“The preschool and elementary age is an important time to establish healthy eating patterns. Yet parents’ concern about whether their child is eating enough or if they’re getting the nutrients they need may lead them to adopt practices that actually sabotage their efforts to get kids to have healthy eating habits in the short and long term.” 

Instead of cooking an entirely different meal, Woolford said parents should eat a balanced diet with at least one food that their kid is likely to eat. She said that since kids learn by observing their parents, eating a healthy diet will inspire kids to do the same. 

Fifteen percent of parents make their kids finish everything on their plate — which can hinder their diet. 

A bit less than a third of parents require their kids to finish all the food on their plate if they want dessert afterward.

The poll found that 70% of parents gave their kids a little less than an adult portion.

Portion size could be important in the fight against obesity, but determining the right portion can be tricky. 

Woolford recommended people look up portion sizes via “MyPlate,” a visual representation on the US Department of Agriculture’s website. 

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