Boys under the age of five are 19.8 percentage points more likely to be overweight if both parents are overweight, and even higher if both parents are overweight. – vadimguzhva / Istock.com Image via AFP
LONDON, August 12th – A UK study examining the possible links between overweight and obese parents and the risk of intergenerational transmission to their children concluded that the effects of being overweight in parents vary according to the age and gender of the children are different and also vary with regard to maternal or paternal influences.
Children whose parents are overweight are more likely to become obese themselves, concludes a study by the City, University of London, published in the Journal for Economics and Human Biology.
The new study analyzed data from a statistical study of the health of 14,401 families living in England that were monitored between 1995 and 2009. The ages of the participating children were between zero and 16 years. They were divided into pre-schools (birth up to five years old), elementary schools (six to eleven years old) and young people (12 to 16 years old).
Based on their investigation of the body mass index (BMI) as well as aspects of the parents' daily life (tobacco and alcohol consumption, socio-economic situation, mental health, etc.), the authors of the study came to the conclusion that parental influences could play an important role The role of children's weight and the risk of obesity in children are closely related to their age and gender.
For example, boys under five are 19.8 percentage points more likely to be overweight if both parents are overweight and 26.7 points more likely if both parents are overweight.
Male and female school-age children with an overweight or obese mother were more likely to become overweight compared to the influence of their father's weight. For example, school-age female children with an overweight or obese mother are more likely to be overweight or obese, and teenage girls with obese mothers were also more likely to be overweight or obese.
The results also showed that the age difference between parents and children (especially in relation to the age of the mothers) can affect the weight of children: the greater the difference, the more children are exposed to obesity, and this is especially true for girls.
Regarding possible explanations for the influence of parents on children's risk factors, the authors highlighted the effects of diet, especially fruit and vegetable consumption, and physical activity. They added that children balance their behavior with that of their parents, particularly when it comes to exercise and what they eat, and that this behavior is largely gender-specific.
Socio-economic factors also play a major role. “We find that lower-income parents are at greater risk of becoming overweight, as are their children. Therefore, in order to be more effective, interventions should focus more on lower income families, ”noted study author Professor Mireia Jofre-Bonet from the city's Ministry of Economic Affairs.
According to estimates by the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO), the UK has the highest prevalence of obese and overweight children in Europe between the ages of 5 and 17. – AFP Relaxnews