London: "Helicopter parents" who hover over their children`s every move leave them at risk of obesity by preventing healthy play, a new study has claimed.
The North Carolina State University study, which looked at families in parks, found that the fussy parents who show too much concern while their children are playing in the park actually cause them to be less active.
These so-called "helicopter parents" often interrupted their children`s spontaneous play, making them more sedentary, the researchers found.
Lead researcher Dr Jason Bocarro said: "It`s a catch-22 for today`s parents, unfortunately. Many parents are worried about the safety of their children, so they tend to hover.
"The worry is hovering is keeping kids from running around and playing with their friends and neighbours, and instead maybe sitting in front of the computer or television," Dr Bocarro was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
The researchers studied 20 parks in the US and classified if children were "sedentary, moderately active or vigorously active" while playing.
The study, to be published in the American Journal for Preventive Medicine, found kids with hovering parents were often stopped from engaging in vigorous activity.
Based on the findings, the researchers hope to provide guidance to designers of public parks -- like providing seat where parents can sit and watch their children play.
Dr Bocarro said: "We chose to study parks because they have been identified by studies as critical spaces within communities to help children stay active.
"They are free and accessible and provide an opportunity to engage under-served and lower-income populations, whom data have shown have a higher likelihood of being classified as inactive and obese.
"This research will help us determine what activities and programs we can implement to make our public parks and recreational facilities places where people – especially children -- want to spend their free time."