Does strict parenting lead to childhood obesity?

It is often said that children are the future of the world. Truer words were never spoken, but just what will be here for them by the time they grow up. The world has experienced a myriad of problems in recent times, which do not appear to be getting solved anytime soon.

That is a lot to dump on the youth of today. For those who have not paid attention, children already have a number of issues they deal with today as kids. Topics such as bullying and conditions like ADHD have made getting through those younger years tough. It is a tough world out there.

Then there is  the concept of childhood obesity. The statistics are shocking when one sees how the obesity rate in children has sky-rocketed over the past few decades. It has gotten so bad that First Lady Michelle Obama has designated its eradication one of her signature goals. She is making progress, but it will be a long process.

Some parents believe that the video game industry is to blame for this recent trend. While that could be true in some cases, the way parents raise their kids could be an even bigger factor. That is the news coming out of a study conducted on over 30,000 Canadian children. The research looked at 37,000 Canadian youngsters between 0-11 years old.

The study took a bit different tact than one might expect. Instead of focusing on what the children ate or how activity they had, the group researched the parenting each child received. In particular, what style of discipline did the parents provide. The researchers were able to break down this parenting into four groups.

According to the Time article, the four groups were authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved. Once the parents were separated into groups, the researchers focused in on the first two entries. While the two would appear to be similar, there is a vast difference between authoritative and authoritarian.

Authoritative, while having some strict qualities, will take the time to examine circumstances surrounding an issue and possibly show some compassion. The authoritarian, on the other hand, is the unmerciful God of their domain. Strict rules are put in place and there is no deviation from them. While there might be a good reason for breaking a rule, there is a zero tolerance policy.

Now one might assume that the permissive or uninvolved would be the parents raising the obese children, as they pretty much run wild. Well, that assumption would be wrong. The research showed that it was the strict authoritarians that have the biggest numbers of obese offspring. The next logical question would be, “How can that be so?”

The answer possibly lies in that harsh style. Some doctors believe that the authoritarian parents tell the kids no, and leave no wiggle room. That leaves the kids to see sweets, soda, and junk food as the forbidden fruit. The kids will go out of their way to try and get things that parents forbid, and the end result usually shows up in the waistline, according to the researchers.

While the forbidden fruit scenario is thought to play a big role, there are other factors that could be part of the cause. The stress a child feels being in that authoritarian situation can cause them to eat more. The demands that their parents put on their education could also play a significant role in the weight gain, as well.