For ages, parents have thought that forcing children to eat everything on their plate when told, was the appropriate thing to do- even when it boils down to the kids eating healthy in order to get a “goody” after they finish everything on their plate. However, new research suggests that the attitude a parent has can heavily influence a child’s weight, long-term and even lead to both adult and childhood obesity.
The University of Minnesota recently conducted a study that was published in the Latest Pediatrics journal which concluded that those parents who forced their children to eat certain ways, had higher odds of possessing a child that suffers from childhood obesity or that is overweight.
In addition, those parents who had children with health weights and restricted and enforced certain dietary expectations on the children had actually increased the odds of the children becoming overweight or causing obesity later in life.
The rates of childhood obesity have nearly tripled over the last decade, as currently 17% of adolescents and children in the U.S. are affected by childhood obesity as cited by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
The lead author of Research for this study Katie Loth states:
“We found that between 50 and 60% of parents from our sample reported requiring that their child eat all of the food on their plate at a meal. Further, we found that between 30-40% of parents from within our sample reported encouraging their child to continue eating even after their child stated that they were full.”
She also said:
“While these pressure-to-eat behaviors were more frequent among parents of non-overweight adolescents, they were still endorsed quite frequently by parents of overweight and adolescents suffering from childhood obesity, indicating that many parents endorse these behaviors regardless of their child’s current weight status”
The data also showed that restricting food from kids was a common practice of either parent, in both boys and girls.
“Research has shown that when a parent places a restriction on a particular food item (i.e. no treats) that a child becomes more interested in consuming that food item and will often overeat that food when given the opportunity,” Loth continued. “Instead, parents should be encouraged to allow their children to eat all foods in moderation.”
Investigators believe that parents should keep an eye on their child’s weight and make an effort to better understand good eating practices, instead of worrying about whether their kids clean their plates or have a cookie now and then.
Study authors recommended such practices as eating regular family meals, having nutritious snacks at home, choosing healthy foods and encouraging young people to make better food choices as a way to fight weight problems and overall childhood obesity, Loth said.
And most importantly, “parents should also work hard to model healthy eating and a healthy relationship with food to their child” by eating a well-balanced diet and thus preventing childhood obesity and adult obesity, Loth said