Mealtime, parents influence teen eating disorders


A new study from Loughborough University shows that the way parents manage mealtimes is linked to lower levels of eating disorders in teenagers.

Perception of food control makes a big difference

Over 500 teens aged 13 to 15 participated in the study. Researchers looked at their perceptions and found that those who felt their parents had more responsibility for providing meals, or whose parents were in charge of food provision, reported lower levels of eating disorders. On the flipside, parents who used more controlling food-related strategies were more linked to less desirable teen eating behaviors.

Problems are gender sensitive
If girls feel pressure to eat by their parents, they are more likely to report disordered eating. For boys, they are more likely to report symptoms of eating disorders if they feel certain foods are restricted by their parents.

Providing meals into teen years is key to success

“Our findings highlight the importance of parents continuing to be responsible for mealtimes until their children are will into their teens. By providing meals, and at the same time avoiding the use of overly controlling feeding practices, parents and carers can help contribute to more positive eating behaviors. Our next step will be to find out to what extent the teens’ perception corresponds with what their parents are actually doing,” said Dr. Emma Haycraft in the University’s Centre for Research into Eating Disorders (LUCRED) and leader of the project.

“The results of such studies are important for facilitating the development of interventions aimed at promoting healthy eating behaviors in teenagers which is part of our ongoing research at LUCRED,” explained Professor Caroline Meyer, director of LUCRED.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of Adolescent Health


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