A new study is making waves in obesity news — and for good reason. Researchers writing in this month’s issue of the journal Pediatrics have found that strict parents tend to raise the fattest kids, at a rate of almost five times that of parents who couple firm rules with emotional sensitivity. Nor do lax parents get a pass, either — their children become overweight by first grade twice as often as do kids of demanding but conscientious parents.
You don’t have to read too closely to realize that these results emphasize the value of responsibility. What’s especially remarkable is how the findings drive home the importance of personal responsibility. The two parenting styles that demand self-control of a child tend to create two wildly divergent health outcomes for kids. “Authoritarian” (defined as strict without much emotional responsiveness) parents impose responsibility on children. “Authoritative” (defined as demanding but also caring and loving) parents instill responsibility in children. The result is that children of the former turn out overweight five times more frequently than children of the latter.
The implications for the paternalistic schemes of the food police are obvious. Food cops are certainly fine with laws and rules, but emotional responsiveness is not the government’s specialty. Loving, responsible parenting is best for a kid’s health, but state “parenting” is in fact one of the worst things you could put a child through.
Apparently it doesn’t take a village to raise a healthy child, let alone a faceless federal bureaucracy.