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Health Educ Res. 2006 Dec;21(6):862-71. Epub 2006 Oct 10.

Is parenting style related to children's healthy eating and physical activity in Latino families?

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  • 1Center for Behavioral and Community Health Studies, Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92123, USA.


Parenting styles influence a child's risk for obesity. The goals of this study are to evaluate the influence of (i) parenting style on children's health behaviors (physical activity and dietary intake), (ii) children's sociodemographic characteristics on parenting style and on children's health behaviors and (iii) parents' sociodemographic characteristics on their use of controlling styles to promote a healthy home environment. Survey and anthropometric data were collected from a community sample of Latino parents (n = 812) and their children in kindergarten through second grade. Parental use of positive reinforcement and monitoring was associated with children's healthy eating and exercise. Also, parents' use of appropriate disciplining styles was associated with healthier eating, while parental use of control styles was associated with unhealthy eating. The daughters of parents who used controlling styles ate more unhealthy foods than did the sons. Older, employed and more acculturated parents used less controlling styles than their counterparts. Parenting interventions targeting children's dietary intake and physical activity should encourage parents to use more positive reinforcement and monitor their children's health behaviors as these parenting styles are associated with healthier behaviors. Moreover, intervention researchers may want to encourage Latino parents to use less controlling styles with girls as this parenting style increased girls' risk for unhealthy eating.

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