Parents need to be cautious about what they say to their daughters about their weight, new research says.
The study found that women who can remember their parents talking about their weight were more likely to be overweight and to be dissatisfied with their own weight.
“Commenting on a woman’s weight is never a good idea, even when they are young girls,” said lead author Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y.
“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,” Wansink said in a Cornell news release.
“After all, it’s the choices that children make for themselves that will lead to lifelong habits,” he said.
The study included 501 women. They were between 20 and 35 years old. They were asked about their body image and how frequently their parents commented about their weight when they were girls.
Compared to those who were overweight, healthy-weight women were 27 percent less likely to say their parents commented on their weight, and 28 percent less likely to say their parents told them they ate too much.
Both overweight and healthy-weight women who said their parents commented on their weight when they were girls were less satisfied with their weight as adults. This suggests that weight-related comments from parents caused harm to the women’s body image, regardless of their current weight, the researchers said.
The study was published in the June issue of the journal Eating & Weight Disorders.
The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has more about body image.