Researchers followed 4-year-olds for 10 years, observing their interactions with mothers and its effect on the child’s weight. Specifically, the researchers were interested 1) the children’s compliance with what the mothers wanted them to eat, 2) the child’s eating of foods that were initially refused, and 3) the amount of food choices allowed by the mothers. The findings:
- Daughters who complied with what the mother wanted them to eat and who ate foods that were initially refused (after the mother’s prompting) “most of the time” were significantly more likely to become overweight.
- Similar factors did not predict weight gain for boys.
- The mother’s obesity predicted weight problems for both boys and girls.
Abstract: Compliant Eating of Maternally Prompted Food Predicts Increased Body Mass Index z-Score Gain in Girls: Results from a Population-Based Sample, Childhood Obesity
Researchers studied the strength of environmental cues regarding what people chose to eat and how much they ate. In two separate environments, a bakery and a lab, the presence of wrappers in a bowl of chocolates were highly predictive of how many pieces of chocolate people ate. Likewise, the kind of wrappers present predicted whether people chose a healthy or non-healthy snack. The researchers concluded that very small changes in our environment can have significant conscious and unconscious influence on our eating choices.
Abstract: Eating by example: Effects of environmental cues on dietary decisions, Appetite
Does parenting style effect a child’s body mass index? Researchers found that style of parenting does have an effect on a boy’s ability to delay gratification, which effects the child’s BMI.
Specifically, when a boy has a poor ability to delay gratification plus a mother who is authoritarian in style, that boy has a greater rate of growth in BMI. All other boys in the study, regardless of their
mother’s parenting style, or their ability to delay gratification, had a slower rate of growth in BMI.
Abstract: Positive Parenting Mitigates the Effects of Poor Self-Regulation on Body Mass Index Trajectories From Ages 4–15 Years. Health Psychology
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