Children of overweight or single mothers have a greater likelihood of being overweight or obese, new research has found.
However, the study, published in the latest edition of the Medical Journal of Australia, found that family conflict, negative life events, and maternal depression are not likely to have an impact on whether a child becomes overweight or obese.
"We found that parenting style was not associated with childhood obesity," said lead author Dr Lisa Gibson, a psychologist with the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth.
"Previous indications of a link between poor family functioning and childhood obesity were based on studies without population-based data and without observations across a range of theoretically important factors".
Dr Gibson said it is possible that parenting practices regarding children's food and exercise behaviour may play a role in managing children's weight problems.
"Children from single-parent families, particularly when there is a family history of obesity, may struggle to maintain a healthy weight in an obesogenic environment with restricted access to nutritious foods (eg, fruits, vegetables and wholegrain cereals ...) and adequate facilities for recreational exercise," she said.
"The association between children's weight, maternal BMI [body mass index] and family structure confirms the need to find ways of targeting prevention and intervention efforts for childhood obesity at families with overweight parents, particularly under-resourced single parent ... families."