November 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Health Blog, Healthy Lifestyle

Young children with fat dads are more likely to become obese as they grow up, scientists have found.
The following is an extract of an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald (14.11.11):  

Previous studies have indicated children are at risk of obesity if both parents are overweight or obese. However a new study by University of Newcastle researchers found that having a fat dad made a child four times more likely to be obese by age eight or nine than those with healthy dads. But only having an obese or overweight mum in the family did not have the same effect.

Lead researcher Dr Emily Freeman said it was unclear why overweight dads had such a big impact on their children’s girths. One theory was a father’s eating and exercise habits could be influencing what his children eat and how much physical activity they do. “We think it’s most likely to be because dads are being models of poor eating and exercise,” Dr Freeman said.

“You hear lots of stories about how mums do all the grocery shopping and cook the dinners, and women in general tend to be more knowledgeable about weight, diet and exercise. “So we are not exactly sure what’s going on there.”

The researchers based their findings on data collected as part of a longitudinal study of 3000 Australian families between 2004 and 2008. They looked at the weights of children when they were aged four to five and then again when they hit eight and nine. Those who had an overweight or obese dad were four times as likely to follow in their father’s footsteps than children with a dad in the healthy weight range.

Dr Freeman said 25 per cent of Australian children were overweight or obese and helping fat dads lose weight could make a difference to the youngsters. She said a pilot program was underway in the NSW Hunter Valley to help dads shed some extra kilos. The results would be analysed to understand the impact of the program on their children.

“We are using the program to understand these mechanisms a bit better,” Dr Freeman said. The researchers’ study was published recently online by the International Journal of Obesity

Yours In Great Health,

Sar Rooney BHSc., ND., DC., DASc., GDSc. (Hons), MATMS, MNHAA, MHATO

Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner, Lecturer, Researcher


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