Finish your own broccoli before you insist on your grandchildren finishing all their greens – a new study has shown eating habits are inter-generational.

Grandparents that eat their greens can greatly influence their grandchildren, a new study has revealed.

Led by Emeritus Professor Mark Wahlqvist from Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine and the Monash Asia Institute, the research used national survey information on health and nutrition for more than 2400 students aged from six to 13, and nearly 1800 elderly people.

“The groups of children who scored highest on dietary quality showed a correlation with high dietary scores among their respective elders,” says Professor Wahlqvist.

When the overall findings were adjusted for other influencing factors such as level of household income and parental education, the quality of elders’ diets was still significantly associated with that of young people’s.

The researchers suggested grandparents may be even more likely than parents to influence food habits.

“It is likely that the grandparent generation is transmitting what the cultural group has acquired over several generations, modulated by their children and grandchildren,” says Professor Wahlqvist.

And it seems the association works both ways, with tech-head grandchildren boosting their elders’ familiarity with technology too.

With one in four Australian children overweight or obese, the intergenerational associations are particularly relevant.

“Our findings suggest that a decline in nutritional capacity in communities, represented by intergenerational transfer of food patterns, may place community health at risk,” says Professor Wahlqvist. “At the same time, the observations suggest that intervening with healthy eating measures in one generation may benefit other generations as well.” 

Are you a strictly-greens or a treats-and-sweets grandparent? Let us know!