Children whose parents went to college eat healthier, eating more vegetables and using less sugar, a new study finds. However, more can be done, as schools fail to provide the healthy, nutritious foods children need. The study suggests that in families with a higher educational attainment, children receive more information about healthy diet. Educational attainment is an indicator of socioeconomic status.
The study examined children in Vancouver schools, and noticed that those children whose parents completed some form of higher education were 85 percent more likely to eat healthy — having more vegetables and less sugar in their diet — than children whose parents did not go to college. When parents went to college, children were 67 percent less likely to use sugary drinks, including soda.
Jennifer Black, a food, nutrition and health professor in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and co-author of the study says: “We can only speculate on the reasons for the disparities. Higher priced products, like vegetables, may not be the food that gets packed first for vulnerable families that need to make tough choices about school lunches.”
However, most children, regardless of parents educational attainment, prefer packaged snacks like potato chips or fast-food style French fries, which are high in sodium and saturated fat. Instead, during school days, children should have low-fat milk and whole grains much more frequently.
The study involved 1,000 children in grades 5 to 8, and asked them to mention what they had to eat at school, or during transit to and from school. Less than half reported fruits, vegetables, whole-grain, or low-fat milk. Thirty-one percent had suggary drinks, twenty percent of the kids ate package snacks, and seventeen percent ate fast food. An alarming 15 percent of the students said they went hungry.