While it might seem obvious that parents have a crucial role in developing healthy behaviours in their children, two recent studies clearly demonstate this principle. What mothers AND fathers do are very important for their children's well-being.
Earlier this year, an important study was published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet about elimination diets for children with ADHD. I have included some information about this study as well.
While strides have been made to decrease the stigma associated with mental illness, research shows that a mother's opinion makes a huge impact on the course of disease for their adult children.
An 18-month study of 129 mothers of adult children with schizophrenia found that negative attitudes of the mothers lowered the quality of life and self-confidence of their child. The symptoms of illness even became somewhat greater when the mother viewed their child in more stigmatized ways.
Lead researcher Fred Markowitz from Rutgers University states "This study highlights the notion that recovery from mental illness is not simply a matter of controlling symptoms...the ways in which people, including family members and service providers, think about persons with mental illness affect the beliefs and actions of the individuals with mental illness, in turn shaping the trajectory of recovery."
Father's who think taking their kids out for fast-food is a fun meal, need to rethink their beliefs.
A 15-month study of family eating habits in Texas showed that the amount of time a child spent in a fast-food place was directly related to the father's time spent there. This may have long-term consequences as mulitple studies have shown a link between fast-food consumption and weight gain.
What's a dad to do? The researchers suggest that "lenient" fathers, who would normally allow more trips to fast-food places, need to be more pro-active with their restaurant choices. Dads often give kids more choice than mothers, but dads will have to step up, and start making better choices for his family.
One hundred children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were randomized into 2 groups: one group continued their normal diet and received healthy food advice. The other group started a restricted elimination diet (they ate mainly rice, meat, vegetables, pears and water).
At the end of 9 weeks, there was no difference in the control group. However in the diet group, 64% of the children saw improvements in their symptoms of ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder.
Dr. Lidy Pelsser of the ADHD Research Centre in the Netherlands writes "We think that dietary intervention should be considered in all children with ADHD, provided parents are willing to follow a diagnostic restricted elimination diet for a 5-week period and provided expert supervision is avaialable."
Restriced elimination diets can be challenging, so anyone considering this should seek professional help to ensure their child's nutritional needs are being met.