According to a recent study, comments about weight made during childhood not only hurt a child’s feelings, they can also cause long-term harm. The study from Cornell University’s Food & Branch Lab, subjects who remembered their parents making comments about their weight tended to be more dissatisfied with their adult weight.
For the study, 501 women were asked about their body image and to recall how frequently their parents commented on their weight. Those who were overweight were 27% more likely to recall their parents commenting on their weight and 28% more likely to recall parents commenting on their eating habits compared to women with a healthy BMI.
“Commenting on a woman’s weight is never a good idea, even when they are young girls,” said lead author Brian Wansink, PhD.
Interestingly enough, women—those overweight AND those with healthy BMIs—who recalled their parents commenting on their weight growing up were less satisfied with their weight as adults. In other words: regardless of weight, comments on weight leads to poor body image.
“If you’re worried about your child’s weight, avoid criticising them”
“If you’re worried about your child’s weight, avoid criticising them or restricting food,” Wansink continued. “Instead, nudge healthy choices and behaviours by giving them freedom to choose for themselves and by making the healthier choices more appealing and convenient. After all, it’s the choices that children make for themselves that will lead to lifelong habits.”