A Link Between Obesity and Temper Tantrums

Using food to calm a child's temper tantrums could lead to childhood obesity, according to a recent study. The progress of 150 children was tracked from birth for over nine years, looking for factors that could contribute to childhood obesity. A quarter of the kids studied were overweight by age 9. Nine percent were considered to be severely overweight.

Although overweight parents were most likely to have overweight children, researchers also found a link between the frequency of temper tantrums and childhood obesity. Children who threw persistent tantrums over food from ages 2-5 were three times more likely to be overweight than kids who didn't. Also, researchers found kids in that same age range who took shorter or fewer daytime naps were more likely overweight too.

Researchers speculate that parents use food bribes to calm upset kids. However, "emotional feeding" affects both children and their parents.

But children who throw the occasional tantrum aren't as prone to obesity. More than 80 percent of the children in the study threw an occasional "food fit," but only 19 percent had regular food tantrums.

Understanding your child's nutritional type early on can help him or her keep their emotions better under control.

ABC News July 9, 2004

Journal of Pediatrics July 2004, Vol. 145, No. 1

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