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Being harsh on your kids makes them fat

Are you an authoritative parent? A new study has found that harsh parenting may increase a child's risk of obesity and poor physical health in adulthood.

According to researchers, attempts by one parent to counterbalance the harsh behaviour are not always effective in lessening that risk. "Harshness leads to problems with physical health and no matter how hard a spouse tries, they may not be able to erase those effects," said lead study author Thomas Schofield from Iowa State University in the US.

"Instead of saying, 'I'm the law and my wife is the gospel' or something like that, better to acknowledge that in terms of harshness, your spouse is not going to be a buffer for the child, so behave responsibly," Schofield added in the paper, published in Social Science and Medicine.Researchers videotaped the interactions of 451 two-parent families to assess parenting behaviour and look at changes in the child's health several years later from adolescence to young adulthood.

However, when they measured the effect on body mass index, the health risk of harsh parenting increased as warmth from the other parent increased. No parent in this sample was observed hitting their adolescent, but Schofield said there were other signs of physical aggression, such as pinching and pushing.

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