Healthy eating is on the minds of many moms, but it’s their eating habits and nutritional knowledge that have the most bearing on what their children eat, according to the NPD Group, a market research company. Recent NPD food industry market research finds that in households with kids, when the adult female has a good Healthy Eating Index (HEI), a measure of diet quality similar to federal dietary guidance, the majority of kids in the household are eating just as well.

Although moms’ healthy eating behaviors impact how their children eat, moms’ attitudes about nutritional eating often do not necessarily align with actual behavior, according to the NPD report “What’s on the Minds of Moms and How Are They Coping.” Three-fourths of new moms and 65 percent of experienced moms say they actively seek out foods with nutrition benefits. The study finds, however, that moms are less likely to actually eat foods with nutrition benefits.

Moms also give themselves high marks when it comes to nutritional and healthy eating knowledge. The NPD study, which was written to aid the food and beverage industry in marketing to moms, reports that 67 percent of moms feel they are extremely or very knowledgeable about nutrition and eating, and 81 percent of moms feel they are the primary source for nutritional education for their children. Yet when moms are asked to assess their children’s level of nutritional knowledge, few ranked their children extremely or very knowledgeable; a little over half of children 6 to 17 years old were considered somewhat knowledgeable. One-fourth of moms considered their children 6 to 12 years old not very knowledgeable.

“Theirs and their family’s healthy eating is clearly top of mind with moms, and their follow-through on this attitude has a direct impact on their family’s eating behavior,” says Dori Hickey, product development manager and author of the report, which is aimed at the food and beverage industry. “It’s clear by our findings that moms could use help in expanding their and their children’s nutritional knowledge, and the food and beverage industry can help in this regard.”