Positive parenting prevents obesity

Positive parenting during early childhood could play a key role in preventing the child from becoming obese, according to a new study.

Researchers at the New York University’s Child Study Center found that children who received family intervention during early childhood had significantly lower rates of obesity compared to others.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, involved 186 children from low-income, minority families at high risk for obesity who were randomly assigned to family intervention or a control group when the children were approximately four years old.

The researchers took advantage of two long-term follow up studies of high-risk children who had participated in either ParentCorps or another effective parenting intervention called Incredible Years during the early childhood.

Early behavioural family intervention included a series of weekly two-hour parent and child groups over a 6-month period.

“Children who enter school with behaviour problems are at very high risk for academic underachievement and school dropout, antisocial behaviour, delinquency, obesity and other health problems,” said Dr Laurie Miller Brotman who led the study.

But family intervention programmes engage parents of high-risk children, reduce harsh and ineffective parenting and help prevent “early behaviour problems from escalating into more serious and intractable problems,” said Dr Brotman.

In both follow-up studies, children who were assigned to the intervention and children in the control condition were evaluated from three to five years later.

The evaluation of children as they approached adolescence included examination of body mass index, sedentary activity and physical activity. In one of the studies, blood pressure and nutritional intake were also measured.

It was found that children who received family intervention during early childhood had significantly lower rates of obesity compared to children in the control group.

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