Strict fathers lead to eating disorders in daughters

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Sydney, Dec 2 (UNI) Don't be a strict father as it can influence your daughter's appetite for food.

A father's relationship with his daughter may influence whether or not she will develop an eating disorder, Australian researchers have found.

Girls whose fathers exerted tight control over them were more likely to develop anorexia nervosa (loss of appetite), while low levels of paternal care increased the risk of both anorexia and bulimia nervosa (increase of appetite), but to a lesser degree, Dr Tracey D Wade of Flinders University in Adelaide and colleagues found.

''Fathers may play a unique role in the development of eating disordered behaviour in their daughters compared to other psychopathologies,'' the researchers concluded.

They also showed that family criticisms of a child's appearance, weight and eating behaviour have been linked to eating disorders.

On the other hand, high parental expectations, usually thought of as a risk factor for anorexia, actually weren't related to the eating disorder in the researchers' analysis, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The researchers watched 622 identical twins, including 226 pairs and 170 individuals.

In one analysis, they compared early life experiences of individual twins with depression, anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa to those of twins who were free of psychological disorders.

In the second, they looked at twin pairs in which one had an eating disorder or major depression but the other didn't.

Comments from family members about how much a girl ate or her appearance were linked to a greater likelihood of both anorexia and bulimia, the researchers found.

Both depressed women and those with bulimia reported higher parental expectations than their mentally healthy peers, although the relationship with bulimia was stronger.

Conflict with parents and criticism by parents were related to both eating disorders and depression.

Twins with anorexia were more likely to report having overprotective, controlling fathers. Receiving little care from the father was less strongly linked to both anorexia and bulimia.

The researchers found no separate influence of maternal behaviour on the risk of eating disorder or depression.

UNI

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