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Mothers are more influential than fathers when it comes to the weight of children

Credit: CC0 Public DomainObesity and obesity often continue for generations in families. The links can be genetic, but are also…



Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Obesity and obesity often continue for generations in families. The links can be genetic, but are also related to family relationships and lifestyle habits.

“Parents have a major impact on their children‘s health and lifestyle. Behavior that leads to obesity is easily transferred from parent to child,” says Marit Næss, laboratory director at HUNT Research Center and PhD student at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim.

How do parents’ lifestyle changes affect their children’s body index (BMI)? It is very different, depending on whether it is mom or dad.

If the mother loses weight, it affects the children. “If mom falls two to six kilograms, this can be linked to lower BMI in the children,” says Kirsti Kvaløy, a researcher for HUNT, a longitudinal population sanity test in the former North-Trøndelag County of Northern Norway.

The researchers found no significant link if the father loses weight, although it may be possible to read a tendency in the same direction. The results largely correspond to similar studies in India and Finland, but the fins found that the heaviest dads also affected the weight of their daughters. And the differences between the effects of father and mother lifestyle changes do not end there.

Less activity, heavier children

“Mothers whose activity levels decline when the children grow up are linked to children with higher BMI in adolescents,” says Næss.

If the mother does not get physically active, the children bigger in the whole line. The father’s choice did not have any significant impact here either. Less active fathers were not linked to higher BMI with their children.

According to Næss and Kvaløy, mom is still likely to be primarily responsible for home planning and maybe even for food choices, although the study did not investigate these issues. The parent-child link can often walk around the mother who wants to lose weight. She makes small changes in her diet and habits that involve the whole family.

This view is reinforced by the fact that The researchers did not find a similar relationship when parents lose weight. This type of weight change is often associated with disease or more extensive diets that do not involve others in the family.

Education also plays a role

The results are also clear even when taking education level. “On average, BMI is lower in families with higher education compared with lower education families,” says Kvaløy.

Human weight loss seems, however, to have a greater impact on children’s BMI in families with higher education.

The study included 4,444 children and parents who reported to HUNT Study. Researchers followed changes in weight and physical activity over eleven years. A positive positive change is that people have generally become more physically active during their free time. The results of the study were published in BMJ Open .


Explore further:
The parents’ feeding styles reflect the children’s genes

More information:
Marit Naess et al., Impact on Parents’ Lifestyle Change and Educational Level in Youth Collections: A population-based cohort study – HUNT Study, Norway, BMJ Open (2018). DOI: 10.1136 / bmjopen-2018-023406

Journal Reference:
BMJ Open

Provided by:
Norwegian University of Science and Technology

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