Objectives Parents are believed to have a strong influence on children's eating behaviours. However, previous findings on child–parent resemblance in dietary intakes are mixed. We systematically reviewed and meta-analysed the association (correlations) based on published studies.
Methods We searched related studies published since 1980 and found 24 studies meeting inclusion criteria for review and 15 for meta-regression analysis. We compared the associations between parent–child pairs, nutrients, over time and by dietary assessment method.
Results Most studies were based on small samples. Overall, they suggest a moderate or weak association, but findings varied remarkably. Our meta-analysis showed that average Fisher's transformed correlations were 0.20 (95% CI 0.13 to 0.28) for fat (% energy); for energy, 0.21 (0.18 to 0.24). The correlations varied by parent–child pairs, dietary assessment and countries. Food frequency questionnaires or mixed approaches yielded lower correlation than 24-h recalls or food records. Child self-reported intakes showed weaker correlation and better methodology quality showed stronger correlation in fat intake (% energy), which also became weaker over time.
Conclusions Overall, the resemblance is weak, and it varied considerably across studies, nutrients, foods and parent–child pairs.
- child health
- international health
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Funding The study was supported in part by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD, 1R03HD058077-01A1, R03HD058077-01A1S1), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK, R01DK81335-01A1), and the National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.