Parents in the US are encouraging stereotype body images among their children, according to researchers belonging to the Florida State University. Even three year olds are not spared by their parents, wherein boys are encouraged to eat well and grow physically, while girls are being taught how to stay slim. Most mothers were of the opinion that their daughters ate well while their sons did not, according to the International Journal of Eating Disorders.
Mothers were also not concerned with their daughters being underweight, but the opposite was the case when it came to sons. There appears to be no difference in perception between the mother and the father where this matter is concerned. This stereotype attitude of the parents adversely influences the eating habits of the children and contributes towards eating disorders in small children.
As many as 54 fathers and 93 mothers were interviewed as a part of the study. About 3% of the male children of these parents and 10% of the female children were underweight when compared to 18% of the boys and 20% of the girls who were over weight. The body mass index (BMI) of the child is reported to be directly connected to the struggle between the parent and child with regard to food.
A higher BMI indicates a greater degree of conflict. This may also result in behavioral problems like discipline. The children over the age of three were not taken into consideration by the study. The study was coauthored by Thomas Joiner, a psychology professor, Ainhoa Otamendi, a post-doctoral student, and Jill Holm-Denoma, a graduate student. The parents in the study were interviewed through a questionnaire.