New research suggests parents should not discuss weight with a daughter, even if she is at a healthy weight.
Investigators from the Cornell Food & Brand Lab found that the less a parent comments on weight to a daughter, the less likely she is to be dissatisfied with her weight as an adult.
The findings show that women who recall their parents commenting on their weight are more prone to being overweight and are less satisfied with their weight as adults.
“Commenting on a woman’s weight is never a good idea, even when they are young girls,” says lead author Brian Wansink, Ph.D., and author of “Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life.”
The research findings appear in the journal Eating & Weight Disorders.
In the study, 501 women between 20 and 35 years old were surveyed about their body image and asked to recall how frequently their parent(s) commented about their weight.
Those with a healthy BMI were 27 percent less likely to recall their parents commenting on their weight and 28 percent less likely to recall parents commenting on eating too much compared to women whose BMI indicated they were overweight.
Importantly, both overweight and healthy weight women who did recall their parents commenting on their weight as youths were less satisfied with their weight as adults.
Researchers believe this indicates that weight related comments can be damaging to body image regardless of weight.
These findings suggest that commenting about girls’ weight can have a negative impact later in life.
“If you’re worried about your child’s weight, avoid criticizing them or restricting food. Instead, nudge healthy choices and behaviors by giving them freedom to choose for themselves and by making the healthier choices more appealing and convenient,” Wansink said.
“After all, it’s the choices that children make for themselves that will lead to lifelong habits.”