It's never too early to start living a healthy lifestyle, and that's why we encourage our teens to eat right. However, TIME reports that nagging them about what they can and can’t eat may prove to be counterproductive.

Two studies in Minnesota, which included 2,231 teens with an average age of 14 years old and 3,500 parents, explored how maternal and paternal suggestions affect children’s eating habits.

Researchers asked moms and dads to gauge and rate their reactions toward statements such as “My child should always eat all the food on his or her plate,” “If my child says, ‘I am not hungry,’ I try to get him or her to eat anyway,’ and many others relating to mealmanagement.

The results showed that parents of obese children were more likely to count calories and to monitor their kids’ fat and sugar intake, while parents of those who weren’t overweight were more likely to push their kids to finish what’s on their plate. Interestingly, dads do more of the pushing, and boys are more likely to do what they’re told compared with girls.

Researchers say that nagging your kids about their diet may actually be unhealthy, as teens may start ignoring their natural hunger signals due to the need to eat more, to eat less, or to finish everything that’s on their plate.

What researchers recommend is to monitor in moderation. Having fruits and vegetables at home and having family dinners together may also help in teaching them how to eat right.

(Photo by bptakoma via Flickr Creative Commons)

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