Juni 2008

IZA DP No. 3535: Intergenerational Transmission of Healthy Eating Behaviour and the Role of Household Income

This paper investigates the possibility of intergenerational transmission of unhealthy eating habits from parents to adult children. It uses the 2003 Scottish Health Survey and estimates the association between the present healthy eating behaviour of adult children and the past parental death from cardiovascular disease (CVD). It uses parental CVD death as an adverse health signal which may cause a healthy eating compensatory response in adult children. This response is due to increased chances and perception of genetic predisposition of adult children as well as an indicator for parental past unhealthy eating habits which may have been passed onto the adult children. Regression analysis suggests that paternal history has no impact on either sons or daughters, and maternal history influences negatively the eating behaviour of daughters only. Unhealthy eating intergenerational transmission appears to be more intense amongst lower household income individuals.