Kids have to deal with tremendous peer pressure. Unfortunately, that also applies to their eating habits. Researchers just released a study that examines how kids eat in relation to who they are around at the time. Those involved in the study were 9 to 15 years old. And, researchers found that all of the kids, regardless of their weight, tended to eat more when they snacked with a friend than when they were with someone their age that they did not know.
But, the peer mimicking went further. Interestingly, the largest calorie intake was seen when overweight children snacked with an overweight friend.
Researchers were not surprised by the fact that kids ate more around friends than strangers. According to Dr. Sarah-Jean Salvy, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the State University of New York at Buffalo, the same holds true with adults.
Salvy believes that this all-pervading eating pattern in humans is due to the fact that people are more self-conscious around strangers. She referred to friends as “permission givers.”
The same is seen in teen’s smoking or drinking habits. A teen doesn’t have to overtly tempt a friend to to do either, but there’s an unspoken pressure to be like your friends. The positive in this, Slavy says, is that there could be a domino effect if a certain amount of children and teens are convinced to eat healthier.