As a teen, if your parents pushed you to diet, chances are you will do the same to your own children. New study recommends that when parents concentrate on a teen’s diet, it creates an unhealthy cycle that can harm generations to come. Study author Jerica Berge said, “Adolescents who received encouragement to diet from their parents were more likely to do it with their own children.”
She said, “They also were more likely to be overweight and obese, more likely to be dieting or binging, and to have lower body satisfaction.” She’s co-director of Healthy Eating and Activity across the Lifespan Center at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.
Encouragement to diet was actually parents telling their children that they should go on a diet to lose weight, researchers said. Earlier research has revealed that as many as 40% of parents commonly do so with their daughters and sons.
According to Berge, the study involved more than 550 people who had been recruited for a larger study while they were teens. They were followed for 15 years and were now parents themselves. Now their average age was 31 and two-thirds were female.
The previous study has advised that focusing on a child’s weight or pointing out that their stomach is fat can put kids at risk for future eating troubles. But when parents talk about the health benefits, it sounds to have a protective effect on future weight.
Berge said: “Parents are concerned about their kids, but need to try to focus on healthy conversations.”
Heller, from NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, said, “Parents or caregivers need to be role models. They have to create an environment of healthy eating and healthy lifestyle for their kids.” She recommended that parents and kids get professional help from a registered dietitian to learn about healthier eating.