Parental Time To Be Key in Fight Against Childhood Obesity
Child Obesity and Parents
The fight against obesity in children just got a new weapon, thanks to a multi-year study by researchers from Texas A&M University.
The study found that the amounts and quality of time parents spent with their children has a direct effect on children's rates of obesity, said Dr. Alex McIntosh, lead researcher. McIntosh is professor of sociology with a research appointment from Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture study, "Parental Time, Role Strain and Children's Fat Intake and Obesity-Related Outcomes," was published in June.
In general, researchers found the amount of time a mother spent with her child, her work stress and her income level had a larger impact in lowering the child's risk of obesity than the father's time, work stress and income, McIntosh said.
Furthermore, the more time a mother spends with the child, the less likely that child is to be obese; conversely, the more time a father spends with a child, the more likely the child will be obese, he said.
"The impacts were greater for 9- to 11-year-old children than for 13- to 15-year-old children," he added.
As a sociologist, McIntosh has long wondered how parents influence their children's nutritional habits, he said.
"The project has been in my head for well over 10 years," he said. "For a long time we thought that parents ought to influence what their kids eat, but we were not sure how that worked."
And that's what the Texas A&M researchers set out to find, he said.