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The Clean Plate Club's: Multi-Generational Impact on Child and Adult BMI

      Objective

      Finishing everything on one's plate is strongly and positively correlated with Body Mass Index (BMI). This study explores the extent to which adults’ clean plate tendencies are inherited from their parents and passed onto their children. Such tendencies’ relation to BMI of adults and children is also explored.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants

      One hundred and thirty-six parents completed a written survey about current and past eating habits and self-reported height and weight. Heights and weights of children were measured by researchers.

      Outcome, Measures and Analysis

      Mediation analyses using PROCESS model 6 were performed with Children’s BMI as dependent variable and Grandparents who asked their children to clean plates as independent variable. Parents who cleaned plates, parents’ BMI, parents asking to clean plates and children cleaning plates were used a mediator variable (M1, M2, M3, M4, respectively).

      Results

      Positive correlation was found between parents who were told to clean their plates as children and their current BMI. Parents who recalled their own parents insisting on clean plates did the same to their children. Mediation analysis results shows that there is a process in which parents ask children to clean their plates which positively impacts the next generation repeating the same behavior as their parents. This mediation is moderated by the gender of the kids.

      Conclusions and Implications

      A vicious circle of parents asking children to clean their plates and the children actually doing it can cause overweight and obese children. More research is needed on plate cleaning as an adopted intergenerational trait and its relation to BMI. Nutrition education could focus on parent-child mealtime dialogue regarding eating behavior.

      Funding

      None

      Supplementary data