*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Counsel & Heal.
Parents who nag their teenage children about losing weight are not being effective at all.
According to a new study, if parents want their overweight or obese kids to eat healthier and exercise more, they must first adopt these healthy lifestyle habits themselves. For this study, an international team of researchers recruited 100 teenagers. They examined the habits practiced by the teenagers' parents in relation to the teenagers' weight.
After following the participants for 13 months, the researchers found that teenagers with parents who added healthier habits to their daily lives were more likely to have lower body mass index (BMI) over time. About 21 percent of teenagers from this group had achieved normal BMI.
"While we've long known that parental behavior influences teenagers, this is the first study to show how parents' healthy eating and exercise directly impacts adolescent BMI," Associate Professor Barbara Mullan at Curtin University in Western Australia stated reported by Medical Xpress. "Previous studies looked at self-esteem and body perceptions, but not actual weight."
The researchers reasoned that when teenagers see their parents make real changes and stick to them, they can start to believe that they also have control over their own lives. This belief can push teenagers to want to change for the better.
Teenagers who had parents who did not adopt a healthier lifestyle, however, tended to gain or stay at the same weight over time. The team also found that nagging or verbally pressuring did not get teenagers to lose weight.
"We were surprised that verbal pressure from parents had no effect on teenage behavior, but in a way, it's not surprising, as young people at this stage are looking to show their autonomy," Mullan explained. "It does come down to 'do as I say, not as I do.'"
The researchers concluded that parents who want their teenagers, particularly those who are overweight or obese, to lead healthier lifestyles should consider making changes to their own lifestyles as well.
The study was published in the journal, Appetite.