OBJECTIVE. The goal was to determine the relationship between the 4 parenting styles (authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful) and overweight status in first grade.
METHODS. Data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development were analyzed. Children with complete data for parenting parameters at 54 months and measured weight and height in first grade were included in the analysis. Overweight was defined as BMI of ≥95th percentile. The 4 parenting styles were constructed with 2 scales, namely, maternal sensitivity and maternal expectations for child self-control. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate the relationship between parenting style and overweight in first grade, controlling for gender, race, maternal education, income/needs ratio, marital status, and child behavior problems.
RESULTS. A total of 872 children, 11.1% overweight and 82.8% white, were included in the analysis. Children of authoritarian mothers (n = 298) had an increased risk of being overweight, compared with children of authoritative mothers (n = 179). Children of permissive (n = 132) and neglectful (n = 263) mothers were twice as likely to be overweight, compared with children of authoritative mothers. Of the covariates, only income/needs ratio was significant and did not alter the relationship between parenting style and overweight risk.
CONCLUSIONS. Among the 4 parenting styles, authoritarian parenting was associated with the highest risk of overweight among young children. Understanding the mechanisms through which parenting styles are associated with overweight risk may lead to the development of more-comprehensive and better-targeted interventions.