Three Things Parents Do to Get Kids to Eat

Posted 01/25/2017 | By HealthCorps

Let’s agree that we all try to do the best for our kids.  According to a new study, parents may unfortunately be directly contributing to childhood obesity risk with three specific behaviors.

A New University College of London study suggests that smoking during pregnancy is one risk factor for offspring becoming overweight or obese.  Allowing kids to regularly skip breakfast is the second risk factor that contributes to children being overweight or obese.  If parents don’t follow a regular bedtime schedule for their kid, that ensures adequate quality sleep, the child may be at higher risk of becoming overweight or developing obesity.

The researchers looked at the Millennium Cohort Study involving kids born to more than 19,000 U.K. families between September 2000 and January 2002.  The data collected in the study included height and weight of the children when they hit ages 3, 5, 7 and 11 years old.  The researchers found that 13.1% of the kids had moderately increasing BMI measurements, while 2.5% had steeply increasing BMIs.  The children’s weight gain directly correlated to the three parental “habits” mentioned above.  The study also found that girls were more affected by the three variables in the “moderate gain”: group, while Pakistani, Black Caribbean, and African American kids were more likely to be affected and fall into the “steeply increasing BMI” group.

Obviously a smoking habit during pregnancy has significant health consequences to mother and growing baby.  The findings of this study suggest that this habit has consequences that reach well beyond the nine months of pregnancy and can fuel excess weight gain in offspring.  Scattered routines like skipping breakfast and irregular bedtimes can happen in families where these health habits were not taught to parents when they were growing up.  Following a schedule can also be challenging when both parents work or when strict scheduling doesn’t come naturally to parents.  Parents are entitled to have different parenting skill strengths, however, there are some basic health habits that all parents need to emphasize when raising kids.

If you regularly skip breakfast, then you may not be dwelling on your kids’ breakfast meal, especially if they balk at eating something in the morning, or if they routinely run late when getting ready for school.  If the household is disorganized or has other priorities, then following a strict bedtime schedule may also be neglected.  The researchers emphasize that these two habits correlate directly to weight gain in kids.  The researchers also suggests that sugary drink consumption and watching TV were NOT as strong predictors of unhealthy weight gain, compared to these three habits.  Breast feeding, timing of the introduction of solid foods, eating fruit and playing sports also did not have the kind of impact on weight gain as the three habits.

It should be noted that this was an observational study, which means that it cannot claim to find “firm conclusions or outcomes.”  Still it does make sense that a balanced breakfast daily will also fuel better academic efforts and more physical energy and consistent and quality sleep ensures that kids approach each day well rested and ready to take on life’s challenges.  If your child gets adequate sleep they will also perform better at school and may be less likely to have tantrums and outbursts that can be provoked more easily when they are excessively tired.

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