Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

FSU study finds body image stereotypes may begin in the high chair

15.12.2005


Parents of toddlers may be serving up stereotypes about body image that could contribute to eating disorders or behavioral problems later in life, according to a pair of new Florida State University studies.



Researchers found that parents of 3-year-olds worried that their sons but not their daughters were underweight - even though the weights and body mass index of the boys and girls in the study were nearly identical. They also said that their daughters ate enough food, but their sons did not.

The findings suggest that parents may be buying into gender stereotypes about appetite and body size even with children as young as 36 months old. The studies, co-authored by FSU’s Bright-Burton Professor of Psychology Thomas Joiner, graduate student Jill Holm-Denoma and post-doctoral student Ainhoa Otamendi, as well as colleagues from the Oregon Research Institute and Wesleyan University, were published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.


"Parents are buying into the media ideal of thinness for girls and perceiving that their daughters may not be thin enough, even at this young age," Joiner said. "They also have stereotypes about male culture that boys should be big and strong and physical."

It’s what Joiner believes is part of parents’ increasing pursuit of perfect lives for their children. Parents want their children to have the right clothes, the right friends, the right activities and even the right body. The problem is that parents’ views on how their children should eat may affect their eating habits at very young ages, he said.

"While parents’ intentions are good, their worries about their children’s eating habits and body size are misplaced and not at all helpful," Joiner said. "The only time a parent should be concerned is if a young child is not eating at all or is under eating in a very noticeable way. With kids who overeat, restriction does not work. Instead, parents should offer them a variety of healthy foods to choose from and encourage exercise."

On the other hand, parents may be reluctant to admit their child has a weight problem. No mother or father in this study reported that their child was fat, despite the fact that approximately 20 percent of the girls and 18 percent of boys in this sample would be classified as overweight based on the body mass index data gathered from parents’ reports of their child’s height and weight. This finding calls into question parents’ ability to accurately describe their child’s body shape and size.

In a related study, the researchers looked at the most problematic eating behaviors of 36-month-old children- pickiness, food refusal and struggle for control - as well as positive parental behavior during feedings. While picky eating or refusal to eat specific foods is common behavior that most toddlers will outgrow, a struggle for control about food was linked to future problems.

"It’s a food-related signal of later conduct problems," Joiner said. "This struggle for control doesn’t seem to go away with age. It’s a rebellious personality trait that seems to predict trouble down the road."

In this study, toddlers with a higher body mass index were more likely to have conflicts with their mothers at mealtimes. The researchers theorized that mothers of heavy children might try to exert more control over the feeding situation than mothers of lean children. Again, the researchers found mothers have more of a struggle with girls than boys.

The most common problem among 36-month-old children is spitting out food during feedings (79 percent). They also are likely to become upset when they want something to eat and are told "no" (71 percent). Other common problems are throwing tantrums and accepting a certain food one day but rejecting it on another.

Both studies were based on assessments that 93 families (93 mothers, plus 54 fathers) in Oregon completed of their child at 36 months old. The researchers say more study of the eating and feeding behaviors of young children is needed.

"By studying children at this age, we might be able to get a handle on early characteristics that could be risk factors for bulimia or the more general issues of eating disorders and behavior problems," Joiner said. "The earlier you know about risk factors, the more likely you are to prevent problems."

Dr. Thomas Joiner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psy.fsu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>