In news that will surprise no one, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center recently figured out that teaching moms and dads how to be better parents could possibly help combat the alarmingly issue of overweight and obese children in America. So, it’s not shocking to hear that better parenting skills may lead to healthier kids. What was a little more surprising in this study is that even when the parenting skills taught did not include education surrounding exercise and nutrition, kids still benefited. During the study, researchers followed a large group of 4-year-old kids from low-income, minority families in New York City over several years. Some of the kids parents were involved in intervention, or parenting classes. Kids of parents who were taught good parenting skills were more likely to be healthier, while kids of parents who did not take the parenting classes were more likely to become obese by second grade. It’s very interesting that these parenting classes didn’t focus on food, weight, or exercise, but instead the classes taught parents how to be more responsive and nurturing towards their kids.

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According to DNAinfo, researchers on the study point out that making childhood weight issues about nothing more than calories and exercise, may be oversimplifying the problem, noting, “There are these really complex interactions between how kids deal with stress and how kids cope with situations and interact with kids socially.” It’s not a sure bet, but in general this research suggests that caring, present parents may also be parents who naturally feed their children healthier meals and encourage exercise or perhaps kids with nurturing parents may be less prone to stress and overeating. Children of parents who took classes also exhibited lower blood pressure rates and lower consumption of carbohydrates. Overall, although it’s not completely clear why better parents have healthier kids, I think we can all agree that better parents with more parenting skills at their disposal probably are likely to pay more attention to what their kids are doing and more importantly likely have closer relationships with their kids. Plenty of research shows that kids do stress eat, just like adults, so a closer parental relationship may mean less stress, and thus less junk food comfort. As a parent, this research matters, not only because it points out the importance of being attentive and caring, but it also shows that a simple parenting class may benefit your children.

+ Early Childhood Family Intervention and Long-term Obesity Prevention Among High-risk Minority Youth

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