Obesity passes mum to daughter, dad to son

Obesity doesn’t seem to cross the gender gap – and it’s down to our behaviour.

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A strong link in obesity between mums and daughters and dads and sons seems to exist, new research suggests.

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Mums who were obese were 10 times more likely to have obese daughters. For dads, their sons were six times more likely to be obese if they were. However, children weren’t affected by the opposite sex parent’s obesity.

The link is thought to be behavioural rather than genetic, according to the researchers from Plymouth’s Peninsula Medical School. The obesity link was probably due to some sort of ‘behavioural sympathy’, where girls copy their mums’ lifestyles and boys copy their dads’ lifestyles.

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Researchers have said the findings mean policies on obesity need to be re-addressed. “We should be targeting the parents and that is not something we have really done to date,” said the study’s leader Professor Terry Wilkin.

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