The Mother-Daughter Weight Connection

Help your daughter have a healthy attitude about her weight.

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Raising healthy children - especially girls -- is challenging in an age when the media sets unrealistic standards about the perfect body. It's all too easy for children to fall prey to eating disorders or unhealthy preoccupations with weight, food, or body image.

While both mothers and fathers have tremendous influence on daughters and sons, it seems that good relationships between mothers and daughters are especially important for helping girls grow up with good eating habits, self-esteem, and a positive body image.

Consider a study published recently in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. It found that teenage girls' desire to be thin or lose weight was based at least in part on their perception of what their mothers wanted for them. Girls in the study were more likely to diet if their moms had done so. A third of the girls in the study reported wanting to be thinner (only 8% of boys expressed this wish).

We all know that excess weight can contribute to health risks and disease, but being obsessed with weight can lead to some very serious conditions, such as anorexia or bulimia. The challenge, experts say, is to help our daughters find the right balance.