Overbearing Mothers May Influence Childhood Obesity

As the rate of obesity among children continues to soar, scientists are questioning whether restrictive feeding by mothers may be part of the problem.The rate of obesity among children ages 6 to 11 more than doubled in the past 20 years, according to the CDC, and for kids ages 12 to 19, the rate has more than tripled. What is causing the explosive rise in the rates of childhood obesity? Some scientists think that restrictive feeding by mothers can trigger weight gain in their children.

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A study published recently in the journal Obesity explored the issue, and found that overly controlling mothers influenced their child’s weight gain in certain cases.

Researchers examined data from studies of 789 boys and girls ages 4-to-7 and 7-to-9 to determine the effects of their mothers’ restrictive feeding on their weight gain. The data were derived from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s study of early child care and youth development.

In the study, some of the children’s mothers reported that they strictly controlled the eating habits of their young sons. But, this maternal control did not lead to later weight gain among the boys.

What researchers did find, however, was confirmation that mothers are more conscious of weight issues in their daughters than in their sons.

Mothers surveyed in the study reportedly increased their control over food when their daughters in the 4 to 7 age range showed substantial weight gain. Surprisingly, most of the daughters in the 7 to 9 year old range who gained weight had mothers who were overly controlling of their children’s diets. In other words, moms who fretted too much over their daughters’ hearty appetites at age 4 ended up with fatter daughters at age 7.

The relationship between maternal feeding practices and child weight gain remains mysterious. What is known for certain is that something is making children in the developed world fat.

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