Study Says Parents’ BMI a Major Contributor to Child Obesity

According to a recent study conducted by the University of Sussex, 40% of a child’s body mass index (BMI) can be attributed to their parents. However, if the child is obese, the percentage climbs up to more than 50%, which means that parents’ genes are a major factor in their children’s obesity.

The study was conducted over 6 six countries of varying GDPs, standards of living and average BMIs and discovered that the intergenerational transmission of BMIs was the same across the board and that children of obese parents were likely to become obese. Environmental factors such as the country’s stage of industrialization and economics did not seem to matter. Even race was not an underlying factor for the transmission of BMI. Of the 100,000 children and their parents that were studied, the average transmission of BMI was consistently 20% per parent, no matter how overweight or thin the subjects were. However, that transmission percentage climbed with obese parents and children.

These findings, which were published in Economics and Human Biology, demonstrate most crucially that healthy diet and exercise aren’t solely responsible for how we look. In other words, our weights are largely pre-determined before we’re born. The stigma and judgement obese people face from “fat shaming” and societal pressures does nothing except blame people who were at a disadvantage before they even started making their own lifestyle decisions. For people who have fought to lose excessive weight their whole life, these findings may shed some light on their difficulties. It can, however, be quite disappointing knowing that there are factors beyond our control that contribute to our weight.

How we treat childhood obesity as a nation-wide health concern should not start and stop at diet and exercise. The fact that we pass down our BMIs onto our children should steer us in a new direction toward ending childhood obesity.

Clinique Michel Gagner has helped people for decades overcome their obesity and achieve their weight-loss goals. Get started on your journey toward better health today by filling out our Patient Questionnaire.

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