Daughters get a lot from their mothers. Their height, hair and eye color, smile, and fingerprints are all partially determined by their mothers' DNA. So is the way girls feel about their bodies.

A study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine showed that there is a correlation between a girl's desire to be thin or lose weight and their mother's views on the matter.

In short: If you fixate on weight and dieting and an unrealistic view of beauty, your daughter will too.

The Mother Daughter Health ConnectionThe takeaway, according to the experts who did the research, is that mothers can subconsciously engrain healthy or unhealthy body images in their children—so choose the healthy. Instead of focusing on beauty, the researchers suggest, focus on being healthy.

Focusing on society's unrealistic expectations of what it means to be beautiful can lead children down a path lined with low self-esteem, eating disorders and a constant and unhealthy inner battle with themselves.

On the flip side, focusing on a healthy lifestyle—eating right, exercising—can give young girls self-confidence and a longer, happier life. In the end, all any parent wants for their children is for them to be happy and healthy, and leading by example is a great way to give your daughter a head start toward that goal.

But what if you don't have children? The study still affects you—because you have a mother.

If you struggle with your weight, self-confidence and body image, it may have something to do with your own mother's ideas about what it means to be beautiful. Understanding where your belief systems regarding food, exercise and beauty come from might help you reach your goals.

For example, if your mother was focused on physical beauty and arbitrary measures of beauty, you might do the same. You might spend your time trying to reach an arbitrary weight goal or dress size and not on the actions that will help you achieve true health. You'll be living meal to meal, scale to scale. Instead, focus on what really matters to you—not what mattered to your mother when you were growing up.