Learning Self-Control is the Key for Kids to Remain Healthy

The girls at the highest risk for weight gain in the study group were the ones who felt they had large amounts of food restrictions put on them by their parents and low self-control.

Sep 4, 2009

According to a recent  Pennsylvania study, kids need to learn to control themselves when it comes to food. Obviously, self-control is important for us all, kids and adults alike, when it comes to weight management. It’s equally apparent that children need to be taught by their parents to make healthy food choices. But parents who strictly forbid their children to eat many foods might be contributing to a lack of self-control in their offspring, thereby creating the very chubbiness that they were trying to avert.

The study examined 197 non-Hispanic white girls over the course of a decade, beginning when the children were only five years old. The researchers, Stephanie Anzman and Leann Birch of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Pennsylvania State University, asked the children if their parents restricted certain foods. They also asked the children’s mothers to describe their children’s level of self-control.

The study found that girls perceived as having less self-control were about twice as likely to be overweight by age 15 as their better controlled peers. The girls at the highest risk for weight gain were the ones who not only had low self-control, but also felt that their parents had heavily restricted their food choices.

"Parental attempts to help children with lower self-control by restricting their access to favorite snack foods can make the forbidden foods more attractive, thereby exacerbating the problem," Anzman said in a news release from the journal's publisher. “It is better to not keep restricted foods in the house. That way, it is not necessary to constantly tell children they cannot have the foods they want."

The study concluded that parents can teach children control by helping them choose among healthy options.

Sources: Healthday; Journal of Pediatrics news release

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Categories: Adolescent Boys, Adolescent Girls, Diets, Food, Health Care, Kids & Teens, Research, Type 2 Issues, Weight Loss

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