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Diet: Childless Couples Eat Healthier, Study Finds

Posted by Tania Mirza Monday, January 10, 2011

It may be an exaggeration to say that your children are making you sick, but a British study has found that couples with children eat a less healthy diet than those who have none. Researchers used data from a British government survey of 7,014 families who recorded their food purchases in a diary over two-week periods in 2003 and 2004.

The higher-income families ate more meat, more fresh fruit and more vegetables than others. Age influenced the consumption of fats and sugar, both of which declined among older households.

But perhaps most surprising, the new study, published in the December issue of the European Review of Agricultural Economics, found that households without children were healthier eaters.

Even after controlling for income, age and other factors, compared with a household with children, a childless household consumed about 4.4 pounds more fruit and vegetables per person over the two-week period.

Having children in the house also reduced the demand for meat, and increased the consumption of dairy products, cereal and potatoes.

“This confirms what we as parents know,” said an author of the study, Richard Tiffin, a professor of economics at the University of Reading in England. “For whatever reason, the social dynamic in a household with children makes the diet on average more unhealthy.”

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