When parents have a lot on their minds, the thought of what to cook for dinner may inadvertently take a back seat. Unfortunately, according to a recent study published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, this may result in having your kids develop poor eating habits later on.

Gathering information on more than 3,700 teens living in a Midwestern metropolitan area, researchers found that around 64 percent of fathers and 46 percent of the mothers worked full-time. They also found out that mothers who worked full-time were more likely to serve fast food meals to their kids. They also spent less time on food preparation than stay-at-home moms or those with part-time work. Researchers also noted a decrease in the consumption of fruits and and vegetables among families whose mothers were out of the house. For fathers who worked full-time, however, the negative effects seem less alarming.

High stress levels aren’t helping matters, either. Mothers who were stressed out served around four family meals in a week, while less stressed mothers served around 5.5 meals per week. Meanwhile, fathers who had to deal with a lot of stress served only 4.1 family meals per week, while non-stressed fathers served 5.7 family meals per week.

If you're a busy mom, ensuring healthy eating habits for your kids can be difficult. However, Dr. Alice Lichtenstein, professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, says that each member of the family can help out by learning how to cook nutritious food. "Teaching both parents and children how to take advantage of quick, easy, healthy, and common food items we are fortunate to have in the marketplace can ease the load on any one member of the family," she says.

(Photo by Tim McLaughlin via Flickr Creative Commons)

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