Monday, February 28, 2011

How sweet 'bribes' to stop tantrums put children at obesity risk

It is the quick and easy way to end tantrums and obtain some much-needed peace and quiet. But bribing children with sweet treats could do a fat lot of good in the long-run.

Research shows that men and women who were given food to keep them quiet as children are much more likely to struggle with their weight as adults.

Not only are they almost 40 per cent more likely to be dangerously overweight, but they run a greater risk of low self-esteem and of using food as a crutch when the going gets tough.
Children given sweets to get them to behave are 40 per cent more likely to become obese and suffer low self-esteem

Children given sweets to get them to behave are 40 per cent more likely to become obese and suffer low self-esteem

The poll, of almost 2,200 Britons also revealed that those silenced with food when young were almost four times as likely to have been overweight since childhood.

As adults, they dieted more frequently and were more likely to have resorted to extreme weight loss measures such as buying slimming pills over the internet, starving themselves and trying to make themselves sick to lose weight.

Some 19 per cent of those bribed with food admitted to constantly feeling unhappy with their adult weight, compared with 10 per cent of others.

James Stubbs, an obesity doctor at Slimming World, which commissioned the survey, said: ‘The occasional sweet or treat isn’t going to cause children problems in the future, even if those treats aren’t particularly healthy.

‘It’s when parents repeatedly use high calorie foods as a quick way to appease their children when they’re upset or to quieten them down when they misbehave that they begin storing up future problems for them.

‘In these instances parents can unwittingly create an association in the minds of their children that leads to them using high calorie foods as a way to make themselves feel better right into adulthood, where the link becomes even more deeply ingrained.

‘As adults, when we’re feeling down, stressed or lonely we seek comfort where we can. For those who have learned to see high energy foods as a way to calm their mood, their easy availability can lead to comfort foods becoming a frequent source of solace.’

The bad news doesn’t end there, with those given food as children finding it difficult to regulate their own children’s weight.

They are also more likely to claim that obesity is in the genes and to have stayed in an unhappy relationship because they we worried that no one else would want them.

Some 15 per cent of those questioned remembered being bribed with food as children, 71 per cent said they weren’t and the remainder didn’t know.

Tam Fry, honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation and an advisor to Slimming World, said: ‘A treat should be seen as a treat.

‘You can have a chocolate at the end of the week as a treat – but you can’t have a chocolate simply because you have stopped pestering mum. That’s absolutely fundamental.’

SOURCE: MailOnline

Unfortunately, this happens quite often.