The Link Between Obesity in Children and Parental Weight
If a child is born to two obese parents, they have a much bigger risk of themselves becoming obese. The most important factor is the mother’s weight. This follows a piece of research completed in the United Kingdom, in which it was found that children were 12 times more liked to develop obesity if their parents were both obese as well. The research did consider ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and more. The strongest association they found was between childhood obesity and the weight of the mother. While these results are interesting, they are hardly groundbreaking, because many other studies have determined the same.
New Data and Research
However, the study is different because it actually used objective data (height, weight, age), instead of self-reports. 4,432 families across the UK took part in the research, which lasted for five years (from 2001 to 2006). Each subject was measured (weight and height) by a trained nurse. This then enabled them to classify the subjects anywhere from ‘normal’ to ‘severely obese’, using BMI calculations.
It was found that at least one parent was obese in 38% of families, and 8% of families were made up of two obese parents. Only 14% of participants were from studies that had two ‘normal’ weight parents. In those families, childhood obesity was only present in 2% of cases.
The study revealed some very interesting results:
22% of children with two obese parents were obese.
35% of children with two severely obese parents were obese.
12% of children were obese if their father was obese.
14% of children were obese if their mother was obese.
4% of children were obese if their father was ‘normal’.
3% of children were obese if their mother was ‘normal’.
The researchers used statistics to make further calculations, and these showed that the strongest association between the weight of a child was with the weight of the mother, not the father. Some of this is believed to be during the weight and diet of the mother during pregnancy, as this is the period of time known to regulate the future appetite and weight of a child. Additionally, mothers are usually the ones who control the diet of their children.
This study is very relevant to the United States, because the United Kingdom now has the largest population of obese people in all of Europe, with one in every three children believed to be overweight or obese. Those are statistics seen only in one other place in the world: here. Additionally, the research started to look at ways to prevent obesity from crossing the generations.
If you are a parent and you are concerned about your child’s weight, it is very important that you start talking to your medical professional now. If you don’t, your child may have to look into bariatric procedures when they grow older. By that time, the damage will have been done, and your child may suffer from various serious health conditions associated with obesity
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