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Strict parenting may make your child obese

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Kids of strict parents more likely to be obese.

Hug more, spank less: Kids of strict parents more obese.


A new study from the American Heart Association (AHA) reports that children of strict and emotionally non-responsive parents are more likely to be obese than kids of affectionate parents who set reasonable boundaries.

These findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014.

Given that more than a third of all children in America are either overweight or obese, researchers involved in the study said that taking a closer look at what’s going on at home that could be contributing to a child's weight problems might lead to improved methods for treating the problem.

Study author Lisa Kakinami, PhD, from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, said that parents should be aware of how they parent their child. She added that the best parenting style for preventing obesity in children is one that balances affection with appropriate limits.

The study involved 37,577 Canadian children who were 11 years and younger. The researchers then identified four different parenting styles, based on prior parenting models as follows:

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1. Authoritative – Parents are demanding, but responsive to child's emotions;
2. Authoritarian – Parents are demanding, but not responsive;
3. Permissive – Parents are responsive, but not demanding; and
4. Negligent – Parents are neither demanding, nor responsive.

Among these four parenting styles, authoritarian and negligent parents were the most problematic.

The researchers then compared the children of authoritative parents (who responded to the child’s emotions, talked with their child about appropriate behavior and established reasonable limits) with the children of authoritarian parents (who were demanding, did not discuss appropriate behavior with their children and did not respond to them in an affectionate manner).

As part of the study, the parents of the children in the study were asked questions in a cross-sectional survey. Following a review of the parents' answers, the researchers then classified them into one of the four parenting styles and compared them to the children's body mass index (BMI) percentile.

As a result, the researchers discovered that children between the ages of 2 and 5 who had authoritarian parents were 30 percent more likely to be obese, compared to children between the ages of 6 and 11 with authoritative parents who had a 37 percent higher risk of being obese.

Poor children were also linked to obesity, although the researchers pointed out that parenting style was linked to obesity regardless of whether the child was wealthy or poor.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, Meeting Report, Ruling with an iron fist could make your child pack on pounds,
Co-authors are Tracie Barnett, Ph.D., and Gilles Paradis, M.D., March 19, 2014.