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Kids eating healthyWhen your child refuses to eat anything other than Mac and Cheese and pizza, the path of least resistance feels like the only road. Now, however, there’s even more evidence that suggests it’s important to at least try to feed them the broccoli first, lest they develop unhealthy eating habits that last much longer than your average temper tantrum.

In a study published in the December 2010 issue of the Journal of Family Psychology, researchers set up a supermarket simulation in which preschool age children were told to purchase food for toy families.

The overweight children consistently  “bought” more total food and chose foods higher in calorie content than children who were not overweight, suggesting that children mirror their parents’ food choices, selecting what they find normal and appropriate to buy. Of course, the overweight children may also be overweight because they tend to eat more and prefer fattier foods regardless of how their parents attempt to sneak them veggies. Still, it’s a cautionary tale.

Additional food for thought, the Times also reported yesterday that two studies were released showing that heart disease prevention may start as early as childhood. One study focused on not exposing children to second-hand smoke (an easy fix), the other on keeping added sugars out of your teen’s diet (not nearly as simple).

Parents, you have your work cut out for you.