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    Children of Authoritarian Parents Have Increased Risk of Obesity

    Authoritarian Parenting and ObesityChildren whose parents use an authoritarian parenting style have an increased risk of obesity compared to children whose parents use an authoritative style, suggests a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014 meeting.

    Researchers including Lisa Kakinami, PhD, study author from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, identified four parenting styles based on previous parenting theories:

    1. Authoritative: parents are demanding but responsive to child’s emotions/issues
    2. Authoritarian: parents are demanding but not responsive
    3. Permissive: parents are responsive but not demanding
    4. Negligent: parents are neither demanding nor responsive

    Although both  authoritarian and negligent styles created the most problems, the researchers compared children of authoritative parents and children of authoritarian parents for the present study.

    Both authoritative and authoritarian parents set boundaries. However, authoritative parents are also affectionate and engage in dialogue with their children while  authoritarian parents show little affection and rarely engage with much dialogue.

    According to the study, children whose parents use an authoritarian parenting style had a 30 percent higher likelihood of being obese between 2 and 5 years old and a 37 percent higher chance between 6 and 11 years old compared to children whose parents use an authoritative style.

    Comments Dr. Kakinami, “Parents should at least be aware of their parenting style. If you’re treating your child with a balance of affection and limits – these are the kids who are least likely to be obese.”

    Additionally, although another part of the study indicated that poverty is also a risk factor for obesity, the researchers say that parenting style affected obesity regardless of socioeconomic status.

    States Dr. Stephen R. Daniels, AHA spokesperson from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, about the importance of the study for parents, “It focuses on different styles of parenting and it makes it clear that some styles are better than others in terms of helping their children avoid becoming overweight and obese.”

    Although the study was conducted in Canada, the researchers believe that the findings have a wider application to families in the United States.

    Concludes Dr. Daniels, “Ignoring bad behavior but rewarding good behavior is the best way to think about this. Punishing bad behavior and ignoring good behavior doesn’t work from a psychological standpoint.”


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