Washington: Kids whose moms encourage them to exercise and eat well, and model healthy behaviours, are more likely to be active and healthy eaters, according to a new study.

According to researchers at Duke Medicine, home environment and parenting can influence a child's health by shaping dietary and physical behaviors, such as providing access to fruits and vegetables or encouraging kids to play outside.

In this study, lead author Truls Ostbye and his colleagues examined the relationship between the home environment and behaviors related to obesity dietary and exercise habits among preschoolers.

They collected information on the children's food intake over the past week, with foods rated as junk food or healthy food. To gauge their levels of physical activity, the children wore accelerometers for a week, which measured moderate to vigorous physical activity as well as sedentary time.

The mothers reported information about their children's environments, including family policies around food and physical activity, accessibility of healthy versus junk foods, availability of physical activity equipment, and whether they model healthy eating or exercise for their kids.

The researchers found significant associations between these environmental measures and the preschoolers' physical activity and healthy versus junk food intake.

They concluded that to promote healthy behaviors in children, a healthy home environment and parental role modeling are important.

Their study was published online in the International Journal of Obesity.