An Unstable Childhood Could Lead to Adult Obesity

Posted on July 31, 2017

A person with a stressful and unstructured childhood could gain habits that may lead to adult obesity. Examples of an unstable childhood are exposure to crime, having parents who are divorced or even shifting houses frequently.

Dr. Jon K. Maner and colleagues used an analytical framework called the “Life History Theory” (LHT) in their research. This framework proposes that the amount of stability a person has in childhood predicts their lifestyle and life choices. These are called “life-history strategies”. There are two types of life-history strategies in LHT – faster and slower. People with faster life-history strategies seek immediate gratification and are generally impulsive. For example, having children earlier or having more sexual partners earlier in life.

According to LHT, people with unstable childhoods have faster life-history strategies. As adults, they are more likely to live in the present, and not plan for their future enough. In contrast, people with slower life-history strategies are more likely to have had a stable childhood, and expect to have a stable future. These people also focus more on the long-term effects of their behaviours and are more likely to think through decisions more carefully.

The study by Dr. Maner and colleagues found that the more instinct-driven behaviour of people with fast-life history strategies made them more likely to eat even if they were not feeling hungry. Such eating habits can lead to obesity. According to Dr. Maner, these people eat what they can, when they can as they do not know when they would have their next meal. People with slow life-history strategies are more likely to eat only when they need to.

Dr. Maner suggests that the study shows a need to create structure for children and reduce unpredictability, creating a slower life-history strategy in the child. It also allows people to find the root cause of their bad dietary structures.

Category(s):Child Development, Parenting

Source material from Medical News Today

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