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Study Shows Impact of Parents' Habits on Children

Posted by Tracii H.

A fascinating study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in September of 2005 draws some notable conclusions about the perception in preschoolers of their parents’ drinking and smoking habits.The study consisted of 120 children ranging in age from 2 to 6 years old. Each child was asked individually to play a game of shopping and choose products at the “store,” buy them at the check-out counter, and bring them home. Adult dolls were used to choose from a number of products, including fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy, breads, desserts, snacks, candy, toiletries, beer, wine, and cigarettes. Alcohol and cigarette products accounted for 11 percent of items stocked in the store. The children were also asked to identify the products to confirm their understanding of their choices. Parents completed a questionnaire concerning their alcohol and tobacco use, as well as the children’s exposure to movies. Children’s choices reflected items expected as their preference: 66% bought cake. They also bought items that adults would normally buy (77% purchased at least one fruit or vegetable, and 38 percent purchased chicken). In addition, 62% bought alcohol, and 28% bought cigarettes. Analysis of the data revealed that children whose parents smoked or drank alcohol were far more likely to purchase these items. They also made some…interesting…comments regarding their purchases:A 6-year-old boy offered Barbie the cigarettes saying: “Honey, have some smokes. Do you like smokes? I like smokes.” After returning from the store with beer, a 4-year-old girl said, “The girls are going to go back to the store [to shop] while the boys stay here and drink [beer].”
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