The dangers lie in a lack of time and the huge range of soft drinks and other foods with poor nutritional value.
In addition, childhood obesity has become a class issue.
Obesity is four times more common among children with stressed mothers, according to the thesis recently presented at Uppsala University.
The study also shows that underweight children are also more common among those with stressed mothers, although the connection was not as strong.
“If you feel stressed in the parenting role you perhaps might not make as wise food choices as you do if you’re feeling well,” said researcher Christina Stenhammar, who conducted the study.
It may also be difficult to find enough energy to encourage children to exercise, she added.
Nearly 900 mothers and 700 fathers were included in the study. But it was only among mothers as the link between stress and overweight children appeared.
“Mothers are particularly responsible for children’s food,” explained Stenhammar.
Most parents expressed a desire to teach their children a positive lifestyle but many were unable to reach their goals.
Mothers with a lower level of education are especially prone to failing in achieving their ambitions when it comes to their children’s eating habits, the study found.
On the other hand, mothers with higher education have greater possibilities and more opportunities to put their knowledge into practice.
“Many felt that the child was constantly exposed to temptations, and found it difficult to handle,” Stenhammar said.
Obese and overweight children have increasingly become a class issue, said professor Claude Marcus at the Karolinska Institute.
“Overweight and obesity are increasing in groups that find it more difficult in our society.”
The authorities have to put to their foot down, Marcus argued.
“It requires clear guidelines, such as the prohibition on sweets, cakes and soft drinks in schools. If the pros say no, it helps parents to dare to be tougher.”