Children who have overprotective mothers are at risk of being obese, a new research shows.
Research by Telethon Kids Institute found that children aged 10 and 11 are more likely to have higher Body Mass Index if they have mothers who hover around them or indule in 'helicopter parenting' as it is called.
The mothers have their own reasons for being so protective, according to the study; they suffer from higher socioeconomic and environmental stress levels.
"Rates of child obesity have increased over the last 30 years or so, and across the same time we've seen changes in levels of parent fear and the number of children who get driven to school, for example," lead researcher Kirsten Hancock said in a press release.
"But so far there hasn't been any research that demonstrates a direct relationship between protectiveness and child overweight and obesity," she said.
For the study, the researchers analyzed 2,596 children from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. The participants were examined every two years from age four to five and age 10 and 11.
Maternal characteristics and socioeconomic status were also collected at each stage of the study.
The study results showed that mothers who scored moderately-high on the protective scale had 13 percent more chances to have overweight or obese children, and those who scored at the highest end of the scale were 27 percent more likely to mother children with overweight or obese BMIs.
"However, we only found this pattern once kids reached the age of about 10-11 years," Hancock noted. "This could be to do with the amount of independence and physical activity that kids get."
Some parents are not happy allowing their kids full freedom to run around and put restrictions on how far they can go to play, with whom they play and what activities they are indulging in. Others chalk out activity plans for their children where they are gainfully learning something in their free time. So opportunities to burn calories and energy are slightly restricted in such children.
"At 10-11 years some kids will be allowed to walk or ride to school on their own, or with friends, or participate in sport... others will be driven around and have greater restrictions," she explained. "So while some kids have many options for physical activity, kids with an overprotective parent might miss out, [which] could explain why we found higher rates of overweight and obesity."
The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.