For children, having role models is very important. Parents serve as their first and foremost guides when it comes to many things in life, but according to a study on MedicalNewsToday.com, they sometimes need to be motivated by people whom they can better relate to, especially when it comes to issues such as obesity and weight loss.

An eight-week study by researchers from the Ohio State University in the US had adult and teen instructors teach lessons from the "Just for Kids!" diet and wellness program an hour after school. A total of 160 children between ages eight to eleven were split into two groups: one worked under the adult instructors within a classroom setting, while another under teen instructors who met one-on-one in a gym setting.

At the end of the program, those taught by teen instructors showed an increase in physical activity and a reduction in body mass indexes as well as diastolic blood pressure. But more than physical changes, the children also presented small changes in their mindsets and behaviors, showing growing knowledge in nutrition and a renewed drive to adjust their attitude and lifestyle. On the other hand, there was no significant improvement in the children under the adult instructors.

Although researchers agree that environment is a huge factor in the desire to learn, lead author Laureen Smith believes that having younger, more relatable instructors also help. She says, "Younger kids look at older kids in their peer group as role models. Teens provide younger children perceived psychological safety and a social network. And this is helpful to adults. Using teen mentors removes some pressure on the staff and teachers of a school to reach students and have an impact on their health."

This just goes to show how important influences are to children. Though friends and school peers have a great impact on a child's overall mindset, it's important to remember that parents are still the ones who create his or her behavioral foundations. A healthy lifestyle ingrained during one's younger years can reflect a better physicial, mental, and psychological future.

(Photo by AngryJulieMonday via Flickr Creative Commons)



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