Parents who use treats to keep their children quiet could be setting them up to develop eating problems later on in life. The research in question found that this method can lead to the development of a bad diet, low self-esteem, comfort-eating and eating disorders later in life.
Individuals in the study who received food as a reward when they were younger were more likely to have a BMI which classified them as obese than those who were not given treats.
They also were more likely to have a background of dieting, trying out extreme weight loss methods including making themselves throw up, unhappiness about their weight and comfort eating to cope with stress.
Dr James Stubbs, who was a researcher on the project has stressed that there are many dangers to relying on food as a parenting aid. “It’s when parents repeatedly use high calorie foods as a quick way to appease their children when they’re upset or to quieten them down when they misbehave that they begin storing up future problems for them,” he said.
“In these instances, parents can unwittingly create an association in the minds of their children that leads to them using high calorie foods as a way to make themselves feel better right into adulthood, where the link becomes even more deeply ingrained.
“As adults, when we’re feeling down, stressed or lonely we seek comfort where we can. For those who have learned to see high energy foods as a way to calm their mood, their easy availability can lead to comfort foods becoming a frequent source of solace,” he added.
Furthermore, the same study also found that those who were rewarded with food when they were young themselves, found it more difficult to tackle their children’s eating habits.
If either yourself or your children are struggling to maintain a healthy diet and your weight is now beginning to have negative effects on your self-esteem then it may be worth considering discussing the matter with a counsellor. For details about how counselling could help you to overcome eating disorders or problem eating, please visit our fact-sheets for further information.