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Health & Parenting

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Obesity Linked to Poor Mother-Toddler Bond

Toddlers Who Have Poor Relationship With Mom May Find Refuge in Food, Researchers Say

Can Proper Parenting Prevent Child Obesity? continued...

“Good-quality parenting is important for many things, including physical health,” she says. “These findings, as well as the failure of the programs that try to teach kids about what to eat and tell them to exercise more, suggest that the fundamentals of parenting can make a difference.”

These fundamentals include effective limit setting, discipline, and not using foods -- particularly fattening ones like ice cream -- as rewards.

Such parenting will help kids regulate their own emotions and develop coping strategies. “You don't have to use food to cope if you know what to do when you are stressed out,” Brotman tells WebMD.

It’s never too early to start developing these skills.

Alan Delamater, PhD, is a professor of pediatrics and psychology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He says the study findings "add to our knowledge about what can affect whether kids become overweight or obese.”

The new study results make sense given the prevalence of obesity in preschoolers, he says.

What is missing is the “black box,” he says. “We need to figure out how the early mother-child relationship affects risk for becoming overweight or obese.”

“It is likely that these children begin eating to soothe themselves starting at very young ages,” Delamater says. “We know that packing on excess weight or fat at an early age makes someone more likely to be overweight or obese as they grow up.”

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