(NEW YORK) -- There may be a link between the common parenting practice known as "emotional feeding," or using food as a means of comforting or rewarding children, and the development later in life of "emotional eating," or the habit of eating to comfort or reward oneself, a new study suggests.
A team of researchers based out of Norway examined the eating habits of a group of 4-year-olds in Norway and then followed up every two years until the group turned 10.
The scientists found that among the sample of 801 children they examined, there was a "reciprocal relation between parental emotional feeding and child emotional eating," the study states in the abstract.
Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' chief women's health correspondent, discussed the warning for parents live on Good Morning America Wednesday, saying that with any parenting technique you want to lead by example.
"There are some good habits that we can establish in childhood, like are you eating as a family,” which Ashton said has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity. Ashton also recommended that parents "avoid using food as punishment or a reward and you want to talk about your emotions."
Both emotional feeding and emotional eating habits do not necessarily link eating to when one's body feels hunger.
The association between emotional feeding in young children and emotional eating in school-age children was only weakly positive, but remains statistically significant.
The study said that association may have important implications later, since analyses also revealed a connection between emotional eating and children's body mass index, a measure of overweight and obesity.
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