Parenting Practices that can Prevent or Reduce Childhood Obesity


  • Galen Eldridge Montana State University
  • Wesley Lynch Montana State University
  • Sandra Bailey Montana State University
  • Carrie Benke Montana State University
  • Jill Martz Montana State University Extension
  • Lynn Paul Montana State University



Overweight in children is more prevalent than ever before. What can parents do to try to promote health and prevent obesity in their own children? The present paper reviews research related to parenting and childhood obesity. The review describes what food-related parenting practices may be helpful: modeling healthy eating behaviors, making time for family meals, making sure healthy food is available and accessible, becoming aware of appropriate portion sizes, encouraging children to eat breakfast, and limiting soda and fast food intake. The paper also discusses food-related parenting practices that may not work to help prevent obesity: pressure to eat, food rewards, restriction, permissiveness, and modeling of unhealthy eating behaviors. Additional parenting practices such as supporting and engaging in physical activity, encouraging an adequate amount of sleep, and limiting television and other screen-media may also help children to maintain healthy weights. Suggestions are also given for professionals working with youth.






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