A longitudinal study, which covered 872 children in the U.S. since their births in 1991, found that children raised by strict disciplinarians are more likely to be fat by age six than children raised by authoritative, permissive, or neglectful parents. This overeating may be a stress response to a combination of high expectations for self control and lack of parental sensitivity.
Unfortunately, parents' strict discipline and lack of emotional responsiveness often begin at birth, which I believe sets a child up for possible trust issues and eating disorders later in life. I don't know if the study covers this at all, but putting an infant on a strict feeding schedule or not picking up a crying baby because it could "spoil" him seem perfectly descriptive of the type of emotional distance and extreme control mentioned in the study. We used to talk in LLL about how breastfeeding on demand helps children learn to eat when they want and need to eat, not when someone else tells them they should eat--this is eating on the basis of internal rather than external cues, something discussed in the report.
Childhood obesity is obviously out of control in the States, and there are likely many contributing factors, but I'm glad this study points out something many people may have never considered. Chalk up another point for nurturing, intuitive parenting!