Overly protective mothers could be contributing to their children being overweight or obese.
This is because they are more likely to restrict the amount of time their children spent outdoors, say Australian researchers.
By the age of 10 or 11, those with nervous mothers had up to a 13 per cent higher risk of being
overweight or obese.
Protective mothers who are scared to let their children play outside are putting them at risk of weight gain – because they miss out on activities such as walking to school.
The study, conducted by Kirsten Hancock of the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, followed about 4,000 children aged 10 or 11.
A study based on the same data, released by the Australian Institute of Family Studies this week, showed children whose parents were concerned about neighbourhood safety spent about two hours a week less time playing outside than others of the same age.
Ms Hancock said parents needed to think about the consequences of having a too tight a reign on their children.
‘It’s perfectly normal for parents to feel protective towards their children,’ she said.
‘But being over protective, usually defined as overly controlling, highly supervising or finding it difficult to spend time away from the child, can have implications for how kids view and navigate their environment.’
‘While there’s no clear indication why this age group is most affected, we believe it may be related to their level of independence.’
She told International Business Times: ‘This is an age when kids are usually allowed to start walking or riding to school on their own and play more independently with friends and be more mobile.
‘But those children with overprotective parents may not be getting this opportunity and this could be impacting on their physical health and wellbeing.’
By the age of 11, children who had overprotective mothers were 13 per cent more likely to be overweight – despite many saying they want to play outside
Ms Hancock added that the most protective mothers tended to be from disadvantaged families – those with a lower income and who had received a poorer education.
The paper was published in the journal PLOS ONE.
A report last year warned that paranoid parents are creating an obesity epidemic among the current generation of schoolchildren.
Anxieties about traffic, stranger danger and a host of other fears mean record numbers of children are being forced to play indoors.
Half of adults played outside at least seven times a week when they were growing up – but less than a quarter of children are allowed as much freedom today.
Yet two in five youngsters say they are desperate to spend more time outside, according to the survey by Play England and its counterparts in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.