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Could you relationship with your mom increase your child's chances of obesity?
Date:1/30/2014

URBANA, Ill. Could the quality of your attachment to your parents affect your own child's risk for obesity? A new University of Illinois study says it can.

"If your mother regularly punished or dismissed your anger, anxiety, or sadness instead of being sensitive to your distress and giving you strategies for handling those feelings, you may be insecurely attached and parenting your children in the same way. A child who doesn't learn to regulate his emotions may in turn develop eating patterns that put him at risk for obesity," said Kelly Bost, a U of I professor of human development and family studies.

The U of I study documents the association between a parent's insecure attachment and their child's consumption of unhealthy foods, leading to weight gain, she said.

"We wanted to discover the steps that connect attachment and obesity. Scientists know that a person's attachment style is consistently related to the way he responds to negative emotions, and we thought that response might be related to three practices that we know are related to obesity: emotion-related feeding styles, including feeding to comfort or soothe; mealtime routine; and television viewing," she said.

According to Bost, children form secure attachments when their caregiver is available and responsive. That attachment gives the child a secure base to explore his environment, protection in times of distress or uncertainty, and a source of joy in everyday interactions.

When that secure base isn't there, an insecure attachment can result, and children who are insecurely attached often experience feelings of anxiety and uncertainty in close relationships. As adults, they are especially at risk for ineffective parenting surrounding some of the factors that are implicated in pediatric obesity, she said.

In the study, 497 primary caregivers of 2- to 3-year-old children completed a widely used questionnaire to determine adult attachment, answeri
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Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer
p-pickle@illinois.edu
217-244-2827
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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