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Pizza Night Might Undermine Healthy Eating Habits

Parents want their kids to grow up strong and healthy, and generally strive to provide healthy foods and encourage kids to eat their vegetables. On Friday nights, or during the weekend, many families have a pizza night that includes sodas and unhealthy deserts. There appears to be some indication that this switch can actually harm children’s health.

There is a survey titled: “Friday Night is Pizza Night: A Comparison of Children’s Dietary Intake and Maternal Perceptions of Feeding Goals on Weekdays and Weekends.” It was done by three people from the Department of Psychology at Bowling Green University: Debra A. Hoffmann, Jenna M. Marx, and Dara R. Musher-Eizenman. It was also done by Jacob M. Burmeister from the Department of Psychology at the University of Findlay.

The survey included at total of 192 mothers of children aged 7 to 11. They were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. The survey examined the differences in the frequency and portion size of school-aged children’s consumption of common foods and beverages, as well as mothers’ perceptions of those items and their child feeding goals, on weekdays and weekends.

The results showed a consistent pattern of more frequent consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages on weekends. The unhealthy foods were consumed in larger portions than the healthy foods that were served on weekdays.

The researchers concluded that the reason kid’s are eating differently on the weekends is because, for many families, weekends have less structure than weekdays. In other words, parents might plan healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks and serve those all week long.

Weekends, however, are more relaxed. Kids don’t have to be at school. One, or both, parents might not have to be at work. It is easy to see why pizza night is so appealing.

But, it’s not just pizza night that parents need to pay attention to. The results of the survey determined that many families dine out on weekends and choose foods that are not very healthy. Birthday parties and family gatherings are often held on weekends. These types of celebrations can include cake and soda.

The researchers aren’t saying that parents should never serve their children pizza. Instead, they are pointing out that the amount of not-so-healthy food, and junk food, that kids eat during the weekend can nullify all the good, healthy, food they ate during the week. The researchers point out that way children are eating on weekends has serious implications on their health that could potentially result in childhood obesity.

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