Positive parenting could tackle obesity

Obesity could be successfully tackled as a result of positive parenting during a child's early years. This is the suggestion of new research published in the journal Pediatrics, which showed programmes that support mothers and fathers relating to behavioural problems during this time may also help control the weight of little ones.

As part of these projects, a series of weekly, two-hour parent and child group meetings were held over a period of six months.

Laurie Miller Brotman, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Director of the Center for Early Childhood Health and Development in the Study Center at New York University, explained youngsters who head to school with behaviour issues "are at very high risk for academic underachievement and school dropout, antisocial behaviour, delinquency, obesity and other health problems".

It was demonstrated that young people who received family intervention of this kind had markedly lower rates of obesity than those who did not.

Professor Andrew Hill, a Chartered Psychologist, said: "We have to be careful about generalising the outcome to all young obese children. The authors acknowledge that the interventions were not directed at obesity, that the families were disadvantaged, from ethnic minority groups in high stress environments. 

"It tells us as much about social inequalities as it does about obesity. Nevertheless, intensive family interventions can have physical as well as psychological benefits. This is a valuable reminder of the needs of vulnerable families and children at a time when programmes in the UK, such as Sure Start, are under threat."