Growing up in a well-off home can benefit a child’s physical health even decades later — but a lack of parent-child warmth, or the presence of abuse, may eliminate the health advantage of a privileged background, according to a Baylor University study.
“Previous research has associated high socioeconomic status with better childhood nutrition, sleep, neighborhood quality and opportunities for exercise and development of social skills. But good parent-child bonds may be necessary to enforce eating, sleep and activity routines,” said researcher Matthew A. Andersson, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.
For example, if parent-child relationships are strained or abusive, meals may be less coordinated among the family, and children may be more likely to eat sugary or high-fat foods as snacks or even in place of meals. Sleep and activity routines also may become irregular, keeping children from developing healthy lifestyles and social and emotional skills useful for successful aging, Andersson said.