How Your Children Are Fed May Reflect Parenting Style

The childhood obesity statistics have seriously gotten out of hand across the United States and researchers are trying to do something to control the issue from getting any worse. One thing they have done is to study and consider the role of family dynamics and how they affect childhood obesity. Researchers found that parents’ general approach to raising their children is often apparent in how they manage their kids’ diets.

The study, which involved 239 parents of first-grade children, reported that parents who were generally strict were also strict about what foods their children could and could not eat. They would ban certain foods and would pressure their children to eat vegetables and fruits.

Those parents who were more lax and permissive with their parenting styles were the same when it came to how their children ate.

In between these two groups, the researchers found, were “authoritative” parents. These parents set limits on their children’s diets, but often used more positive approaches — like following a healthy diet themselves — to get their kids to eat well.

The findings stated that parents general styles were important in the overall diets of their children. They also suggest that efforts to help obese children lose weight are “not likely to be successful” unless the underlying family dynamics are addressed. The experts recommend that parents need to get their children to eat right in a positive manner by setting good examples and leading by example and eating properly.

But in this study, both the strict and permissive parents typically failed to serve as good dietary role models for their children.

“Due to the infrequency of healthy eating modeled by both permissive and authoritarian parents,” the researchers write, “food and nutrition professionals might encourage both to begin more healthy eating — for the sake of their own health and that of their children.”

The study was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.