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Scientists: 'Helicopter Parenting' Leads To Overweight Kids

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Scientist say parental fears could be making kids fat. For the first time, researchers say they can prove that 'helicopter parenting' – adults who micromanage their child's every move – may be contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic.

Experts say it's not good for a child to stay inside all day, in front of the iPad or the television, and close to the fridge, instead of playing outside.

Now pediatricians are declaring that parents need not be so afraid of what might happen when they let kids loose.

CBS 11 News found three-year-old Palmer helping his mother make dirt pudding. "Not all… just a little. Perfect. Okay there," she instructed her son.

Bethany Jordan lets her child play in the dirt too. "My son likes to ride his bike and ride his scooter down the street," she said. "We let him go from corner to corner, but I'm not with him the whole time. I can't keep up with him."

But as important as activity is for a three-year-old, Jordan admits the distance between freedom, and irresponsibility can be a fine line. She says, "It's a hard balance because we live in an urban environment where you have to worry about safety too. But you can't live in fear."

Overweight Kids - obesity
Overweight students stretch during training at a camp held for overweight children. (credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Fear may be contributing to childhood obesity, according to a new study by the Public Library of Science. In the study, researchers found in kids ages 10 and 11, there was a 13-percent increase in the odds of being overweight when parents are overprotective.

Doctor Marjorie Milici has a recommendation. "I don't think it's bad for the mom to sit on the bench and read a book and be watching as the children are playing. Don't be so nervous about child abduction. Let your kids play. Playing is good."

Milici says she often tells parents of her patients at Baylor Pediatric Center that kids need to make decisions on their own.

Doctor Milici said for her, the study means kids need to move around more and further proves that promoting independence in kids teaches them how to one day take care of themselves.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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