Parenting style plays key role in childhood obesity
The American Heart Association reports that more than one-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese. Most often this childhood weight gain is attributed to poor diet and lack of nutrition. New research, however, points out that strict parenting and too little affection and communication can also put children at a greater risk for weight gain.
Researchers found that demanding parents who are not emotionally responsive are nearly one-third more likely to have obese children than parents who set healthy boundaries, show affection and openly talk about behavior. The study findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology & Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism Scientific Sessions 2014 in late March.
Participants in the study included nearly 40,000 Canadian children that ranged in age from months old to 11. Researchers compared kids whose parents were authoritative or more open with communication and affection with parents who were authoritarian or ruled with strict limits and little dialogue or affection.
Children ages 2 to 5 years old of authoritarian parents had a 30 percent greater chance of being obese, and kids ages 6 to 11 had a 37 percent greater chance of being obese.
Researchers also found that poverty was linked to childhood obesity, however, parent style affected obesity regardless of income level.
“Parents should at least be aware of their parenting style,” said Lisa Kakinami in a statement. “If you’re treating your child with a balance of affection and limits—these are the kids who are least likely to be obese,” said Kakinami, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal.
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