According to a new study, children may put on weight if their parents already think of them as overweight. At the same time, children whose parents consider they have a normal weight are less susceptible to struggle with obesity over the next decade of their development.
When looking at the problem in detail, the scientists concluded that children may perceive their body weight more negatively if their parents do the same. This could lead to the children attempting to lose weight, a factor which partially accounts for their weight gain later in life, say the researchers.
Up until now, it was thought that parents who view their children as obese and introduce them to methods they could use to lose the excess body mass played an important role in the kids’ later development and childhood obesity management. However, the new study states the opposite, claiming that children who are considered overweight by their parents are at risk to develop weight-related issues in their future development.
Angelina Sutin of the Florida State University College of Medicine and University of Liverpool’s Drs. Eric Robinson, psychology researchers, have analyzed data gathered from more than 2,800 Australian families. At the beginning of the study, the researchers measured the subjects’ height and weight. The participants were aged four and five years old. The parents were asked to describe how they say their children and had to choose between normal weight, underweight, overweight, or very overweight.
When the children turned 12, respectively 13, the researchers took their measurements once again and asked the children to choose between a series of images that they thought best described their body type. Furthermore, the researchers also investigated if the children had previously engaged in any efforts in an attempt to shed some weight in the previous year.
The researchers took their final measurements when the children turned 14, respectively 15 years old. Upon analyzing the results, the scientists were able to confirm that children whose parents thought of them as overweight actually gained weight 10 years after the initial measurements were taken. The results were the same for either boys or girls, no matter of the weight they started with. When the researchers looked at a similar study conducted in Ireland, they saw the same pattern of results for approximately 6,000 Irish families. However, there is no telling for sure if a parent’s perception of their children’s bodies leads to weight-related issues later in life.
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