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Staggering Statistic: The Scary Reason Why 5-Year-Olds Are Watching What They Eat

January 1, 2016

Remember being five years old? What a carefree time, spent playing with dolls or action figures, running around the playground, and finger-painting countless masterpieces.

Sadly, that’s not totally the case for kids today, according to new research. When Australian researchers profiled more than 100 5-year-old girls, they discovered something shocking. Thirty-four percent of the girls surveyed were already restricting their diets. We’re talking about kindergarteners here.

The reason? To stay thin or keep from gaining weight. Digging deeper, the researchers spent some time studying the girls’ mothers and interviewing both the girls and parents about body image. Exposure to media celebrating the ideal of thinness and overhearing other conversations at home about appearance were strongly correlated to the children’s dietary restraint.

It’s a horrifying thought—especially if you have young children of your own. Hopefully, this statistic can serve as a reminder that kids really do emulate their parents’ actions. It’s even more of a reason to consciously make healthy choices around our children.

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Annalise Mantz

Annalise is a foodie, Brussels sprouts lover, grammar nerd, and political pet aficionado.

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