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Physical and emotional stresses have been linked with obesity in the females. This research has brought startling evidence to light, stating that harsh parenthood practices, combined with the malice of food insecurity, which are two very common problems, can put the female population at risk of obesity.
Food insecurity causes internal body changes, becoming one of the risk factors for obesity. Childhood troubles have a similar impact. Harsh parenting comprising of years of rigid discipline, anger, resentment and critical behavior, has a significant effect on the teenage years, affecting the way the fat is stored in the body.
This prospective research was authored by Brenda Lohman, a professor in human development and family studies and Tricia Neppl, an assistant professor in human development and family studies. The results of the study were subsequently published in Journal of Adolescent Health.
During the course of this research, 13 year old female adolescents were studied for impacts of food deprivation and bad parenting till the age of 16. The food insecurity in children was reported by the parents themselves whereas home environment and parent-child interactions were observed through videotaping.
Harsh Parenting: Males vs. Females
It was hypothesized that the increased risk of obesity in females might be linked with an increase in the levels of cortisol-the stress hormone- in the body when confronted with emotional difficulties. High cortisol levels affect the other endocrine functions, particularly the fat metabolism, putting the females at high risk of high body mass index (BMI). Lack of wholesome food further aggravates the already disturbed metabolism.
Although there is no difference in the impact that harsh parenting has on young girls and boys, the severity of the consequence in both the genders is slightly different. No plausible explanation for these differences has been postulated as yet.
According to Brenda Lohman, the lead author of this study, the researchers have, as yet, been unable to explain why the males are less affected than females when faced with the similar circumstances of food deprivation and difficult childhood.
The Importance of Good Parenting
According to the researchers, the concept of childhood wellness should not remain limited to the pre-teen years only as puberty is the time of major emotional and physical changes. It is during this time that adolescents need good parenting practices the most.
Poor parenting can mar the child’s adolescence experience, leaving lasting imprints that can later manifest in the form of psychological conditions, such as binge eating, which can further add to the risk of obesity. Good parenting can be ensured by close collaboration between parents and teachers to ensure the best childhood environment free of insecurities.
Overcoming Food Insecurities
Keeping a close child on the child’s diet during the adolescent years is as important as during the early years of life since growth spurts require additional nutritional support. Healthy, nutritious diet at this time of life ensures that the body weight remains within the stipulated range of Body Mass Index adjusted for height.
Ensuring an emotionally stable childhood through good parenting and overcoming food deprivation problems in females can be, therefore, implemented as modifiable preventive strategies for the prevention of obesity and to avoid the complications associated with it.