Perceived Temperament and Risk for the Development of Overweight in Children
Anthony J. Mascola,
W. S. Agras.
Evidence reviewed in this paper suggests that there is an increased risk for rapid weight gain and overweight in children who are perceived by their caregivers as having difficult temperamental characteristics. Recent findings indicate that parental perceptions of difficult temperament mediate the effect of the most potent risk factor, parental weight, in the development of childhood overweight. Further prospective trials that make tightly focused, a priori predictions regarding well defined temperamental characteristics and their potential relationship to a single well defined outcome measure would strengthen the validity of these findings. Parental behaviors associated with feeding differ between children who are perceived as having difficult temperaments versus those who are perceived as having easier temperaments. Parental prompting and control over feeding appears to occur more frequently among overweight parents who perceive their children as being difficult. Such control has been associated with overweight in laboratory observations of parental feeding practices. Randomized controlled trials that attempt to modify parental feeding interactions with high risk children would be indicated to determine the worth of such interventions in addressing the obesity epidemic.
Keywords: Overweight, obesity, growth, infants, children, temperament, maternal child interaction, parenting style
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