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What happens when parents comment their daughter's weight?

Even slim women are more likely to have poor body image if their parents commented on their weight in youth

Date:
June 7, 2016
Source:
Cornell Food & Brand Lab
Summary:
The less you comment on your daughter's weight, the less likely she is to be dissatisfied with her weight as an adult, according to a new study.
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"If you're worried about your child's weight, avoid criticizing them or restricting food. Instead, nudge healthy choices and behaviors by giving them freedom to choose for themselves and by making the healthier choices more appealing and convenient," says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab (Eating & Weight Disorders, 2016)
Credit: Daniel Miller

The less you comment on your daughter's weight, the less likely she is to be dissatisfied with her weight as an adult according to a new study from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

The findings published in Eating & Weight Disorders show that women who recall their parents commenting on their weight are more prone to being overweight and are less satisfied with their weight as adults. "Commenting on a woman's weight is never a good idea, even when they are young girls," says lead author Brian Wansink, PhD, and author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life.

For the study, 501 women between 20 and 35 years old were surveyed about their body image and asked to recall how frequently their parent(s) commented about their weight. Those with a healthy BMI were 27% less likely to recall their parents commenting on their weight and 28% less likely to recall parents commenting on eating too much compared to women whose BMI indicated they were overweight. Importantly, both overweight and healthy weight women who did recall their parents commenting on their weight as youths were less satisfied with their weight as adults. This indicates that weight related comments were damaging to body image regardless of weight.

These findings suggest that commenting about girls' weight can have a negative impact later in life. "If you're worried about your child's weight, avoid criticizing them or restricting food. Instead, nudge healthy choices and behaviors by giving them freedom to choose for themselves and by making the healthier choices more appealing and convenient," recommends lead author Brian Wansink "After all, it's the choices that children make for themselves that will lead to lifelong habits."


Story Source:

Materials provided by Cornell Food & Brand Lab. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brian Wansink, Lara A. Latimer, Lizzy Pope. “Don’t eat so much:” how parent comments relate to female weight satisfaction. Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 2016; DOI: 10.1007/s40519-016-0292-6

Cite This Page:

Cornell Food & Brand Lab. "What happens when parents comment their daughter's weight? Even slim women are more likely to have poor body image if their parents commented on their weight in youth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 June 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160607080400.htm>.
Cornell Food & Brand Lab. (2016, June 7). What happens when parents comment their daughter's weight? Even slim women are more likely to have poor body image if their parents commented on their weight in youth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 21, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160607080400.htm
Cornell Food & Brand Lab. "What happens when parents comment their daughter's weight? Even slim women are more likely to have poor body image if their parents commented on their weight in youth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160607080400.htm (accessed February 21, 2017).