Eleven-year olds definitely have their own opinions about diet, exercise and weight-loss; and it is mostly their opinions — not those of their parents — that affect their lifestyle changes. Nevertheless, while parents’ opinions are secondary, they still count for something, a new study suggests.

Preteens who believed they needed to lose weight or believed their parents thought so were more likely to plan to do so, found the study appearing online in the journal Health Promotion Practice. Children who ate healthy made that choice based in part their parents’ influence or because their parents planned to lose weight — but that influence had already started to wane by age 11, the study found.

Led by Lesley Cottrell, Ph.D., section chief for epidemiological research at West Virginia University, researchers asked 342 children and their parents about the children’s intention to lose weight, eat healthier and exercise more. The goal was to find who or what motivates children to change their lifestyles — information that would contribute to developing effective medical programs in this area.

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