There has been a controversial PSA called, “Childhood Obesity: Is Mom to Blame” circulating around social media. This PSA indicates that parents are to blame for the childhood obesity epidemic. Haven’t seen the PSA yet? Click here.
There are numerous factors affecting childhood overweight and obesity! However, it is not in left field to say that parents play a crucial role in establishing their child’s health and lifestyle behaviors. Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between parental and childhood obesity. One study observing 4,788 child-mother-father trios showed that two of the strongest indicators for a child to be overweight was the weight of their parents before their birth (pre-pregnancy) and the weight of their parents when they reached 16-years-old. Another study conducted by Whitaker et al. concluded that, “parental obesity more than doubles the risk of adult obesity among both obese and nonobese children under 10 years of age.”
It is also interesting that a few studies examining childhood obesity and mother-child feeding patterns showed that by offering only a few food choices their children were more likely to have a lower BMI. This outcome can also be applied to adults too. Most children, teens, and adults when presented with multiple food choices may have a hard time choosing only one option and limiting their calorie intake. It is the parents role to offer healthy options at each meal; however, it is the child’s role to determine how much he/she wants to consume.
The bottom line is that parents need to be role models for their children, because they do effect their child’s short- and long-term health and lifestyle behaviors.
Endevelt et al. An intensive family intervention clinic for reducing childhood obesity. J Am Board Fam Med. 2014 May-Jun;27(3):321-8.
Faith et al. Maternal-Child Feeding Patterns and Child Body Weight: Findings From a Population-Based Sample. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003;157(9):926-932.
Faith et al. Relation between mothers’ child-feeding practices and children’s adiposity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;75581- 586.
Jääskeläinen et al. Intergenerational transmission of overweight among Finnish adolescents and their parents: a 16-year follow-up study. Int Jour Obes (Lond). 2011; 35:1289-1294.
Whitaker et al. Predicting obesity in young adulthood from childhood and parental obesity. N Engl J Med. 1997;337869- 873.