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8 February 2012 | PR 12/24

Mothers still important to stop teens skipping mealtimes

Mothers’ eating behaviours continue to impact on their children well into adolescence according to new research from Loughborough University.

A study charting the eating habits and influences of more than 3000 Australian adolescents aged 12 to 15 has shown maternal, as well as peer, behaviours can affect whether adolescents skip meals.

Skipping meals is particularly common during middle and late adolescence and can have a significant impact upon health. Worryingly, eating habits and behaviours developed during adolescence often continue into adulthood.

This latest research, led by Dr Natalie Pearson in the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS), reveals that in families where the mother is perceived as a healthy eater, both boys and girls are less likely to skip meals. However where the mother is seen to skip meals, the children are more likely to skip meals as well.

For girls in particular, peer behaviour appears to be important. Girls who reported their best friends skipped meals were more likely to follow suit. 

Lead researcher Dr Pearson explains:

“It is already recognised that maternal eating habits influence young children, but this research shows that children continue to be influenced by their mothers well into adolescence.  

“What is particularly interesting is maternal influence extends to meals where the mother is unlikely to be present, such as lunch where we would expect adolescents to be in school. This pattern can also be seen amongst girls who are more likely to skip breakfast because they perceive their best friends to regularly skip meals.

“Our findings suggest nutrition interventions focusing on adolescents may be more effective if they also target mothers.”

This study was conducted with colleagues from the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research at Deakin University, Australia. Data was gathered from the Youth Eating Patterns (YEP) study.
Findings are from the paper 'Maternal and best friends’ influences on meal-skipping behaviours' published in the British Journal of Nutrition. For a copy of the paper please contact the University PR Office.


For all media enquiries contact:

Amanda Overend
PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223491
E: A.J.Overend@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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This page was last updated on Wednesday February 8, 2012 12:52