A study of 2,000 parents shows 63 per cent of them believe they adopted a healthier lifestyle following the birth of a child.
And just over half claim the added responsibility of a new-born was the kick start they needed to pay more attention to their own well being.
As such, 46 per cent of new mums and dads do more exercise since having a child than they did before, and 65 per cent pay closer attention to what they are eating.
A resounding 85 per cent of parents said they were aware it was important to set a good example for their children to follow.
While 29 per cent of those polled say they began to overhaul their health and fitness the minute they discovered they were going to become a parent, 14 per cent addressed the situation when the baby was born.
Tina Clare at Engage Mutual, which commissioned the study, said:
“The research suggests that having children can be the trigger for many adults to take their health and fitness more seriously.
“It is often the point at which they start to re-evaluate what is important, and health goes to the top of that list.
“New mums and dads realise that with parenthood comes responsibility –and looking after their children’s best interests goes hand in hand with looking after themselves.”
The study shows around one in three parents who introduced a healthier regime after having a child did so because they wanted to be around to see their child grow up; or didn’t want their child to be overweight.
A similar number said they made changes due to needing more energy to keep up with the family, and 24 per cent said they simply didn’t have time to go out partying anymore.
When it comes to mealtimes, 36 per cent paid more attention to their own diet after starting to cook healthy meals for their offspring.
From cutting down on takeaway meals, unhealthy snacks and alcohol; to being more likely to cook from scratch and read food labels for ingredients when shopping, parents have introduced a range of healthier habits.
Many have also started to adopt a ‘practise what you preach’ attitude to food, such as ‘eating your greens’.
More than half of parents have eaten new foods they wouldn’t have tried prior to children; and over 40 per cent have eaten foods they don’t particularly like – such as sprouts and fish – to encourage their child to eat them.
Tina Clare at Engage Mutual continues:
“Whether it’s reducing alcohol intake, exercising as a family, or introducing healthier eating habits, it seems that having children spurs a shift in our attitude towards our own health and fitness.”
New parents tend to eat at least one extra portion of fruit and vegetables a day, spend longer preparing meals, and cut down on sugary food.
They drink less alcohol than before having children, eat fewer takeaways, and spend more time exercising.
And almost two thirds enjoy exercising as a family – going on bike rides, and taking trips to the swimming pool.
The benefits of parenthood even extend to dental hygiene, with half of all respondents stating they now spend longer cleaning their teeth than before having children.