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Int J Pediatr Obes. 2011 Oct;6(5-6):442-9. doi: 10.3109/17477166.2011.590203. Epub 2011 Jul 22.

Psychological control by parents is associated with a higher child weight.

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  • 1IVO Addiction Research Institute, Heemraadssingel 194, 3021 DM Rotterdam, the Netherlands.



In this examination of the association between parenting style and child weight, the neglected concept of 'psychological control' has been added to the generally accepted parenting dimensions 'support' and 'behavioural control'. Also explored is whether the potential association between parenting and child weight is moderated by socio-demographic variables (child's age/ethnicity, and parent's education level).


A cross-sectional study was performed among 1,665 parent-child dyads. The children's mean age was 8 years. Their height and weight were measured to calculate their body mass index (BMI). Parents completed a questionnaire to measure the three parenting dimensions. Based on these dimensions, five parenting styles were defined: the authoritative, permissive, authoritarian, neglecting and rejecting parenting style. Child BMI z-scores were regressed on parenting style, adjusting for parental BMI, child ethnicity, and parent's education level.


Rejecting parenting, characterized by high psychological control, low support and low behavioural control, is the only parenting style significantly related to child BMI z-scores (β = 0.074, p < 0.001). The positive association was not moderated by socio-demographic variables.


By adding the dimension of psychological control to the concept of parenting, this study has further elucidated the mechanisms whereby parenting may affect child weight. Demonstrating that 'rejecting parenting' is associated with a higher child weight, emphasizes the need for longitudinal studies in which parenting style is measured three-dimensionally. Potential mediating effects of parental feeding style and children's eating style, as well as age moderation, should be included in these studies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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