Be careful how you comment about your child's weight.
Parent’s who consider their child overweight could be doing more damage to the child’s self-image than they think.
A new report has revealed that a parent’s attitude towards the weight of a child could cause that child to gain extra weight over time and struggle with negative thoughts about themselves.
Researchers took data from two national studies that involved 2,823 Australian families. The height and weight of the children – then aged 4 and 5 years old – were measured and the parent’s asked if they considered their child very overweight, overweight, a normal weight or underweight.
The study then followed the families particularly looking at the weight of the children over a 10-year period. They were shown various images of body weight and asked to identify which image they thought matched their own, together with questions about attempts to lose weight and thoughts about their weight.
The results showed children who’s parent’s had considered them overweight were much more likely to gain more weight showing parent’s perceptions had a great influence than previously thought.
“Although parents’ perception that their children are overweight has been presumed to be important to management of childhood obesity, recent studies have suggested the opposite; when a parent identifies a child as being overweight, that child is at increased risk of future weight gain,” psychology researchers Eric Robinson, of the University of Liverpool, and Angelina Sutin, of Florida State University College of Medicine, said in a press release. “We argue that the stigma attached to being an overweight child may explain why children whose parents view them as being overweight tend to have elevated weight gain during development.”
The research found that the sex of the child, family income, as well as parent’s weight and health were not influencing factors in the study.
A similar study was also conducted by the same research team that involved Irish families that pulled up the same results.
Details of the research were published in The Association for Psychological Science.