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Women More Likely To Have Poor Body Image When Parents Comment On Weight

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Parents that make comments regarding their daughter’s weight could be setting her up for body image issues down the road, according to a new study published in Eating & Weight Disorders.

The fewer times a parent makes a remark about his or her daughter’s weight, the less prone she will be to having body issues later as an adult. After surveying over 500 women between the ages of 20 and 35 years of age, researchers discovered that weight-related statements by parents caused their daughters to be more prone to overeating and weight gain as adults.

"Commenting on a woman's weight is never a good idea, even when they are young girls," said Brian Wansink, PhD, lead author of the study.

A positive alternative

During the study, female participants were asked to remember how often their fathers or mothers made comments about weight. Women with a healthy BMI were 27 percent less likely to recall weight-related comments and 28 percent less likely to remember parental suggestions on eating compared with females who were considered overweight.

Researchers also claim that comments concerning weight and eating habits in general led to negative body image issues for adult women regardless of their weight.

The key to helping young women avoid these body issues later in life can be attained by providing healthy food alternatives around the home to enable children to make smart decisions for themselves.

"If you're worried about your child's weight, avoid criticizing them or restricting food,” said Wansink. “Instead, nudge healthy choices and behaviors by giving them freedom to choose for themselves and by making the healthier choices more appealing and convenient. After all, it's the choices that children make for themselves that will lead to lifelong habits."

Source: Cornell Food & Brand Lab