A new study found that children whose parents alternated between restrained and impulsive eating were more likely to become overweight or obese in childhood, compared with children whose parents ate in moderation. This could be because parents who eat impulsively are teaching their children to eat in response to external cues, such as the presence of food at a party, rather than hunger.
According to researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts, these results may help parents to become more aware of their own eating behaviors and attitudes, and the impact their behaviors may unconsciously be having on their children. Parents should provide healthy food choices and allow their children to develop their own internal dietary regulation.
Their study included 92 children aged 3 to 5 and their parents. After 6 years, the children whose eating patterns were the most erratic had gained the most weight. Children with two parents who alternated between restrained and impulsive eating were much more likely to gain excess weight throughout early childhood, results show. Children whose parents were restrained eaters and did not binge gained the least weight over time.
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