Increasing numbers of parents are controlling the diets of their babies and toddlers.
With one in ten children under two overweight, in the U.S. the obesity crisis is getting worse each year. But some parents are so worried about preventing the problem, they are putting their babies on diets.
Leading pediatricians have revealed how increasing numbers of mothers and fathers are controlling the intake of food in children as young as seven months.
Dr Blair Hammond, of New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center said that some parents admitted they were thrilled when they were told their children were thin.
She told ABC News: ‘There are some parents who are very pleased when their children are thin – a lot of fathers even. They’re like: “Yes! My daughter’s thin!”‘
The show filmed the pediatrician in consultation with 18-month-old Maya Hasan and her mother Jodi, who carefully controls her daughter’s diet.
Dr Hammond said that Mrs Hasan was not concerned when Maya – who is at the low end of the recommended healthy weight bracket for her age – had not gained any weight between check-ups.
She is even seen instructing the mother-of-one to let her daughter eat a whole bagel rather than scooping out bread within the crust.
Mrs Hasan explained that her behaviour was because she didn’t want to see Maya struggle with her weight like she has all her life.
She said that she is careful to include plenty of fruit and vegetables in every one of the toddler’s meals.
‘I don’t want her to have any of the problems that I had. The self-consciousness, the health issues – I want her to have a good self-esteem,’ she said.
‘I do worry about [giving her psychological issues] – as she gets older I have to control myself from telling her what to do when she has to make her own decisions.
‘I want her to live long and be healthy, but hopefully it won’t be important for her to think about it every day – the way that I think about it every day.’
This is not a new issue. In an extreme case early last year, Brittainy Labberton was charged with child neglect for starving her baby for days at a time, leaving her emaciated and close to starvation.
The 21-year-old, from Washington State, told authorities her husband had weight problems and she had no desire to see her daughter to become an obese adult.
And a user of parenting website MomLogic told readers the story of a fellow mother who put water instead of formula in her seven-month-old’s bottle to keep his weight down.
Fellow users of the site were outraged, with one commenting: ‘This mother is setting her child up for developmental delays and eating disorders – that, my friend, is abuse, plain and simple.’
Dr Hammond said that these parents’ attitudes were unnecessary, and made for unhealthy role models.
‘You don’t want to project a lot of anxiety and stress about eating to your kids,’ she said.
‘How many mothers are stressed and dieting all the time – and their kids get that as a role model?’
Via Daily Mail