How Parents' Habits May Increase Baby's Risk of Obesity

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-03_13de246247.jpgiStock/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- Some babies may be at a higher risk for obesity because of their parents. According to a new study, the ways in which parents are influencing their children's weight gain can even vary by race. For the study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers studied 863 parents to tease out the parenting behaviors that put babies at risk of being fat -- also known as “obesogenic” actions.

What they found was startling. Despite doctor-supported recommendations to the contrary, 43 percent of parents put their infant to bed with a bottle at least occasionally. Nearly half watch TV while feeding their babies -- which leads to less mindful feeding. And about half of all parents reported that their infants actively watched TV, on average for about 25 minutes a day.

Interestingly, some bad behaviors were more common than others, depending on the race of the parents. For example, Hispanic parents were most likely to encourage the infant to finish the bottle with almost every feed and to immediately feed their infant when it cried, while black, non-Hispanic parents were more likely to put their baby to bed with a bottle.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in teens over the past 30 years, increasing child risks for high blood pressure and higher cholesterol.

The main message, however, applies to all parents -- we’re missing many simple steps that could cut children’s obesity risk.

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