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 The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

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: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>