The researchers funded by several government grants such as the National Cancer Institute Grant and National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Grant found an effective way to carry out this study. First, the researchers gave the individuals (ages11-21) being tested a survey about their parents to determine the style the parent used. The survey was broke down into tests. One test determined acceptance of the parent, while the other determined control. Based on the answers given by the child, the parents styles were determined and were broken up into four categories. These four categories were permissive, authoritarian, disengaged, and balanced.
As a result, the categories would serve as the independent variables in the study. Once the childs parenting type was established, the researchers monitored the kids BMI over an eleven year span to watch for any increases or decreases. The BMI, the dependent variable in the study, showed greater increases in the kids who had a balanced style parenting. This result surprised the researchers because they believed that the authoritarian and disengaged parent types would show greater increases. Although, the authoritarian and disengaged parent types didnt show increases in BMI more than the balanced style, they did associate to lees leveling off of trajectories over time (Fuemmeler, 2012).
This study showed relation between the parenting styles and BMIs of their children, but this study does not present a causal relationship between the two. It cannot show a causal relationship for a number of reasons. One reason is due to the fact that the study refuses to acknowledge factors causing association between parenting styles and BMI. For example, a parent that practices a disengaged style and lives in an obese home environment may encourage poor eating and exercise habits in their kids lives. Also in order for the study to demonstrate causation, the researcher would have had to alter the parenting styles and make greater changes to the weight and diet of the individuals being studied (Fuemmeler, 2012).
Some things that should have been changed in the study would be the way the measurements were recorded. Instead of having a self-reported height and weight, the researchers should have had their own workers record the measurements for more accuracy. Another flaw in the study was that the style of parenting before adolescence was never examined. Which leaves the question of whether parenting styles in adolescence or pre adolescence has more of an effect on BMI.
Fuemmeler, B. F., Yang, C., Costanzo, P., Hoyle, R. H., Siegler, I. C., Williams, R. B., & stbye, T. (2012). Parenting styles and body mass index trajectories from adolescence to adulthood. Health Psychology, 31(4), 441-449