"Clean your plate or else!" and other authoritarian approaches to parenting can lead to overweight children, a new study finds.
Strict mothers were nearly five times more likely to raise tubby first-graders than mothers who treated their children with flexibility and respect while also setting clear rules.
But while the children of flexible rule-setting moms avoided obesity, the children of neglectful mothers and permissive mothers were twice as likely to get fat.
"The difference between the different parenting groups is pretty striking," said the study co-author, Dr. Kay Rhee of Boston University School of Medicine. The study of 872 families appears in the June issue of Pediatrics, released Monday.
Rhee speculated that parents who show respect and warmth within a framework of rules may help their children learn to make good decisions about food and exercise. Or it could be that strict parents create a stressful household where overeating becomes a comfort and escape, she said.
Other studies have shown the flexible parenting style, also called authoritative, has other good results for children such as higher achievement in school and lower incidence of depression, said John Lavigne, chief psychologist at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2006/06/04/national/a220009D57.DTL">Strict Parenting Linked to Overweight Kids