Strict parents have FATTER children! Youngsters with toughest mums and dads are 3.3lbs heavier because they end up comfort eating, study suggests
- Scientists looked at the weight of more than 10,000 children in the UK
- Those with very strict or uninvolved parents 3.3lb (1.5kg) heavier, on average
- They suggest children who don’t receive enough affection comfort eat to fill void
Being strict parents makes you more likely to have overweight kids, a study suggests.
Children whose parents are very strict or uninvolved are on average 3.3lb (1.5kg) heavier, than those whose parents are ‘firm but warm’, scientists found.
They suggest children who do not receive enough affection from their family may turn to comfort eating to fill the void.
Researchers analysed data involving more than 10,000 UK children taken over two decades.
Children whose parents are very strict or uninvolved are on average 3.3lb (1.5kg) heavier, than those whose parents are ‘firm but warm’, scientists found
Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton found only 53 per cent of six-year-olds got an hour of exercise including playing in the park or PE per day
NHS data show the number of obese or morbidly obese children starting or finishing primary school fell in May 2022 in England
How can you check whether a child is a healthy weight?
For children and young people aged 2 to 18, people can check their weight by working out their body mass index (BMI) using the NHS BMI calculator.
A child’s BMI shows if their weight is right for their height and the result is given as a percentile.
For example, a healthy weight result is between the 3rd and 91st centile.
The BMI calculator takes into account age and sex, as well as height and weight.
If a person is concerned about their child’s weight or growth, they should contact a GP or school nurse.
Parenting style was divided into four categories based on questionnaires which were filled in by the parents and children, in the first study of its kind.
These were authoritative (parents who maintain clear boundaries but are also warm), authoritarian (parents who maintain strict discipline and show little warmth), permissive (parents are empathic but have few rules) and neglectful or uninvolved (parents who are emotionally uninvolved and have few rules).
They found youngsters who experienced authoritarian or neglectful styles of parenting up to age 7 were more likely to weight over 3lbs more than those with warmer upbringings.
The association was seen at all ages, according to the findings presented at the International Congress on Obesity in Melbourne.
The study’s authors say that the lack of warmth associated with authoritarian and neglectful parenting may mean that a child’s ability to self-regulate their food intake — to eat when hungry and stop eating when full — does not develop properly.
More than a quarter of children are overweight or obese when they start primary school, rising to four in ten by the time they head off to secondary school
Alexa Segal, of Imperial College Business School, London, said the findings showed the influence parenting styles have on children’s potential relationships with food.
She said: ‘Authoritarian mothers are characterised by being demanding and controlling, while having low warmth and responsiveness.
‘This could lead to them not responding to their child’s hunger cues by, for example, not allowing them to select a snack when hungry, and/or asserting control over the child’s food intake by, for example, putting them under pressure to clean their plate when they are not hungry.
‘This control means that the child does not develop their own ability to regulate their own energy intake, meaning they might overindulge when they have the ability.’