"If you're rigid with rules and skimpy on affection and dialogue with your kids, they have a greater chance of being obese," researchers said. (Agencies)
Investigators followed a nationally representative group of 37,577 Canadian children aged 0 to 11.
They compared kids whose parents are generally affectionate, have reasonable discussions about behaviour with their child and set healthy boundaries (authoritative) with those whose parents were strict about limits without much dialogue or affection (authoritarian).
The latter group had a 30 per cent higher chance of being obese among kids 2 to 5 years old and a 37 per cent higher chance among kids 6 to 11 years.
"Parents should at least be aware of their parenting style," said Lisa Kakinami, a post-doctoral epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal.
"If you're treating your child with a balance of affection and limits — these are the kids who are least likely to be obese," said Kakinami.
Researchers compared parents' answers to a cross-sectional survey.
They categorised parenting styles and analysed them with respect to children's body mass index (BMI) percentile.
They also found that poverty was associated with childhood obesity. But parenting style affected obesity regardless of income level.
Exploring factors at home that may be fuelling the public health concern could lead to better prevention and interventions, Kakinami said.
"If you're rigid with rules and skimpy on affection and dialogue with your kids, they have a greater chance of being obese," researchers said.