The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
The effects of different parenting styles on children’s weight have been determined—and indicate parental warmth is key to a healthy weight; the International Congress on Obesity in Melbourne (18–22 October, the biennial congress of the World Obesity Federation) will hear.
The analysis of data on more than 10,000 U.K. children found that authoritarian and neglectful parenting in early childhood were linked with higher weight throughout childhood and adolescence. Both of these types of parenting are characterized by a lack of parental warmth.
“The effect of parenting style on a child’s weight is often considered a taboo subject,” says researcher Alexa Segal, of the Center for Health Economics & Policy Innovation at Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London, London, U.K. “However, a comprehensive understanding of the associations between parenting style and childhood and adolescent obesity has great potential to inform obesity policy and contribute to the development of more effective health and nutrition programs.”
The analysis of up to 23 years of data on 10,510 participants showed that youngsters who experienced authoritarian or neglectful styles of parenting in early childhood (age 7) were more likely to have a higher weight (taking into account their age, sex and height) than those who experienced authoritative parenting. They were about 1.5kg (3.3lb) heavier, on average. The association was seen at all ages.
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.
The results also suggested that permissive parenting was associated with increased weight, although the effect lessened with age. However, this result wasn’t statistically significant and more evidence is needed to reach a firm conclusion.