Ruling with an iron fist could make your child pack on pounds

American Heart Association Meeting Report Abstract MP34

March 19, 2014 Categories: Heart News, Scientific Conferences & Meetings

Study Highlight:

  • Kids whose parents are demanding but not emotionally responsive are about one-third more likely to be obese than kids whose parents set healthy boundaries, are affectionate and discuss behavior.

Embargoed until 1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO — If you’re rigid with rules and skimpy on affection and dialogue with your kids, they have a greater chance of being obese, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology & Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism Scientific Sessions 2014.

Researchers followed a nationally representative group of 37,577 Canadian children aged 0 to 11. They compared kids whose parents are generally affectionate, have reasonable discussions about behavior with their child and set healthy boundaries (authoritative) with those whose parents were strict about limits without much dialogue or affection (authoritarian).

The latter group had a 30 percent higher chance of being obese among kids 2 to 5 years old and a 37 percent higher chance among kids 6 to 11 years.

“Parents should at least be aware of their parenting style,” said Lisa Kakinami, Ph.D., a post-doctoral epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal. “If you’re treating your child with a balance of affection and limits — these are the kids who are least likely to be obese.”

Researchers compared parents’ answers to a cross-sectional survey. They then categorized parenting styles and analyzed them with respect to children’s body mass index (BMI) percentile.

Researchers also found that poverty was associated with childhood obesity. But parenting style affected obesity regardless of income level.

More than one-third of American children are overweight or obese according to the American Heart Association. Exploring factors at home that may be fueling this public health concern could lead to better prevention and interventions, Kakinami said.

Co-authors are Tracie Barnett, Ph.D., and Gilles Paradis, M.D. Author disclosures are on the abstract.

Additional Resources:

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Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content.  Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

Note: This abstract will be presented at 5 p.m. PT Wednesday, March 19. Embargoes lift at time of presentation or 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET, whichever comes first.

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