How Early Childhood Dietary Habits Affect You The Rest of Your Life

How Early Childhood Dietary Habits Affect You The Rest of Your Life

Establishing and maintaining healthy dietary habits in children will help them their entire lives.

Early childhood eating patterns contribute substantially to the dietary habits we develop as adults, which, in turn, affect quality of life and the chances of developing non-communicable diseases. With the percentage of overweight and obese children and adults rising at alarming rates worldwide, it is more important than ever to establish healthy eating habits as early as possible for our children and ourselves.

We take health very seriously at SaladPower—that is why we created a convenient, all-organic smoothie packed with nutrients and stored in an ergonomic pouch. With SaladPower, it has never been more convenient to be healthy!

Why Child Eating Habits Are So Important

According to the World Health Organization, worldwide adult obesity more than doubled between 1990 and 2022. In that span, adolescent obesity quadrupled, and in 2022, a staggering 37 million children under the age of 5 were overweight.[1]

In the first years of life, children develop eating patterns based on what their parents and caregivers offer them and by observing how the people around them eat.[2] While these experiences shape their early dietary habits, those habits are not static. Alarmingly, eating habits appear to deteriorate as children proceed through adolescence and into adulthood.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services uses the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) to rate diet quality, assigning a grade between 0 and 100 on how well a diet meets recommended dietary guidelines. While ages 2 to 4 already show room for improvement, ranking 61 on the HEI, that figure drops by 10 points to 51 for adolescents aged 14 to 18.[3]

Similarly, a 2000 study of 291 students in Minnesota showed that, between third and eighth grade, the percentage of kids who ate breakfast dropped by 14%; fruit consumption fell by 41%; and vegetable consumption fell by 25%.[4]

The key, then, is not only establishing healthy dietary habits in early childhood, but actively managing those dietary habits from childhood all the way into adulthood.

The Dangers of Poor Childhood Eating Habits

One of the most direct outcomes of poor nutrition is being overweight or obese. Poor eating behavior is also associated with negative emotional states, such as anxiety and depression.[5]

Later in life, early dietary habits can manifest in even graver concerns. For instance, in 2019 alone, obesity contributed to the deaths of approximately 5 million people. These obesity-related deaths were due to a range of non-communicable diseases, from neurological disorders, chronic respiratory diseases, and digestive disorders to cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.[6]

The stakes are high when it comes to our eating habits, and fortunately, there are a number of ways we can help establish healthy dietary patterns for ourselves and our children.

Ways to Instill Better Eating Habits

Along with maintaining an active lifestyle, paying attention to what we eat and how much we eat is crucial in optimizing our health. For children, that means exposing them early on to healthy foods and reinforcing healthy eating behavior through the eating habits of parents and caretakers. Indeed, studies have suggested that one of the best intervention methods for child obesity is through parental diets.[7]

By making a wide range of nutrient-dense foods available to children, we also reinforce healthy eating habits. Many foods marketed today are energy-dense, but not nutrient-dense, providing added sugars and fats and not vitamins and minerals. So when it comes to snacks, we recommend keeping around fruits and vegetables in lieu of chips and cookies.

Sharing healthy meal times with our kids is also a great way to establish a healthy diet. Putting nutrient-rich foods and beverages on the table day-to-day does wonders in modeling healthy eating habits for young ones. We can also involve our children in meal decisions, as appropriate for their age, as a means to empower them and get them used to making healthy food choices.


Instilling healthy dietary practices in children is of paramount importance in protecting their long-term health. While there is a growing trend toward obesity, and the health issues that come with it, there are a number of ways to put children on the path toward nutritional health.

With vegetable and fruit intake being such a drastic issue among children, and only becoming worse with age, SaladPower is an excellent way for children (and adults, too!) to forgo unhealthy snack options for an organic, nutrient-rich smoothie. Packed with superfoods, and with no added sugars, SaladPower is one of the easiest, healthiest choices you can make for your household—try it today!


[1] WHO. (2024, March 1). One in eight people are now living with obesity.

[2] Birch, L., Savage, J. S., & Ventura, A. (2007). Influences on the Development of Children's Eating Behaviours: From Infancy to Adolescence. Canadian journal of dietetic practice and research : a publication of Dietitians of Canada = Revue canadienne de la pratique et de la recherche en dietetique : une publication des Dietetistes du Canada, 68(1), s1–s56.

[3] Anderson-Villaluz, D. (2021, March 30). Giving Children and Adolescents a Healthy Start Through Nutrition - News & Events |; OASH.

[4] Lytle, L. A., Seifert, S., Greenstein, J., & McGovern, P. (2000). How do children's eating patterns and food choices change over time? Results from a cohort study. American journal of health promotion : AJHP, 14(4), 222–228.

[5] Houldcroft, L., Farrow, C., & Haycraft, E. (2014). Perceptions of parental pressure to eat and eating behaviours in preadolescents: the mediating role of anxiety. Appetite, 80, 61–69.

[6] WHO. (n.d.). WHO acceleration plan to stop obesity.

[7] Abdoli, M., Scotto Rosato, M., Cipriano, A., Napolano, R., Cotrufo, P., Barberis, N., & Cella, S. (2023). Affect, Body, and Eating Habits in Children: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 15(15), 3343.

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