Family criticism of an overweight child or adolescent's weight or shape can cause long-term body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and eating disorders, according to a new study.

August 2006 - In "The Adverse Effect of Negative Comments About Weight and Shape From Family and Siblings on Women at High Risk for Eating Disorders," researchers reviewed information submitted by 455 college-age women participating in an Internet-based eating disorder prevention program. More than 80 percent of the participants reported some parental or sibling negative comments about their weight, shape or eating. More than half reported negative comments by their mother, 40 percent by their father; and approximately 40 percent by siblings.

As most of the women who reported family criticism said they only received "a few" negative comments, researchers concluded that even one or two comments can cause long-term, harmful effects. The study recommends that pediatricians discuss the impact of negative comments on their child's weight, shape and eating, and teach parents how to provide constructive, positive advice.

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