Your Hands-Off Parenting Style Is Making Your Children Obese & Overeat Unhealthy Food

A hands-off parenting style could harm your children's health. A new study found that parents who allow their children to snack freely and with no control are encouraging them to be obese or overweight.

Unhealthy Snacking

Children with strong appetites are prone to frequent unhealthy snacking, which often leads to obesity and overweight issues. A research team from the Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Michigan, and Temple University's College of Public Health, found that snacking greatly affects a person's weight. In fact, more than 40 percent of children's daily intake of additional sugars comes from snacks, PsychCentral reported.

In the United States, children between two and 18 years old regularly eat unhealthy snacks like salty foods, desserts, and artificially-sweetened beverages. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Department of Agriculture only recommend two snacks per day for children in preschool.

Another research found that rewarding children with food can turn them into emotional eaters as adults, according to Daily Mail. Using food as a reward or treat may be teaching kids to rely on food to manage their emotions, which then leads to weight gain and eating disorders.

Kids Are Vulnerable To The Effects Of Junk Food Advertising

Children have looser self-control when it comes to junk food advertising. A study from Cancer Research UK found that kids view junk food ads as "tempting," "addictive," and making them want to "lick the screen."

These junk food ads often use celebrities, bright and vivid colors, and silly voices to lure children. Kids, in turn, get hungry while watching these marketing ads and pester their parents to buy them junk foods.

Meanwhile, children involved in sports programs are also exposed to unhealthy foods and drinks manufactured by companies that sponsor the programs. A study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health found that 40 percent of kids are exposed to Nestle's Milo and 11 percent are exposed to McDonald's.

Kathy Chapman, co-author and director of cancer programs at Cancer Council NSW, said these sponsorships downplay the goals of sports programs, which is to help children stay physically fit and healthy. The more a child is involved in a sports team sponsored by unhealthy food brands, the more likely they are to consume foods that aren't good for their health, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

In the United States, obese children aged six to 11 soared to 18 percent in 2012 from seven percent in 1980, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted. Obese adolescents with ages between 12 and 19 rose from five percent to 21 percent in the same period.

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