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Genetics 'Not To Blame for Obese Kids'

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This Children become obese because of the influence of their same-sex parent, not as a result of genetics, a new study by British scientists claims.

kid eating hamburger
Scientists from Peninsula Medical School at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth say if a young girl has an overweight mother she is more likely to become obese, with the same applying to boys and their fathers.

The findings suggest that it is behavioural rather than genetic factors that have a greater influence in determining whether children become obese.

According to the study of 226 British families, the scientists found that obese mums were 10 times more likely to have obese daughters.

Obese dads were also six times more likely to have an obese son.

However, the same trend did not exist between mums and their sons and fathers and daughters.

"Any genetic link between obese parents and their children would be indiscriminate of gender," the study's director Professor Terry Wilkin said.

"The clearly defined gender-assortative pattern which our research has uncovered is an exciting one because it points towards behavioural factors at work in childhood obesity."

Prof Wilkin said the findings could dramatically affect government policies on dealing with childhood obesity and its current focus on an apparent genetic link.

"Money and resources have focused on children over the past decade in the belief that obese children become obese adults and that prevention of obesity in children will solve the problem in adulthood," he said.

"(The study's) evidence supports the opposite hypothesis -- that children are becoming obese due to the influence of their same-sex parents and that we will need to focus on changing the behaviour of the adult if we want to combat obesity in the child."

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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
mommy<3 July 13, 2009, 3:58 PM

I agree with this completely! all the fat kids I know got that way from their PARENTS!!!! you set the example.

Happy2bMe July 13, 2009, 7:55 PM

So let me get this straight. I was a chubby kid because my Mom was overweight? Wow, I never knew 110lbs at 5’7 was so obese.

Do parents influence their child’s eating habits? Sure they do, but I’m not buying this “same sex” blame game. That’s just too cute! Our kids are over weight because no one plays outside anymore and families are all about convenience foods and not healthy meals. It’s that simple.

Patois July 13, 2009, 8:56 PM

The crux of this subject is the “Nature vs. Nurture” dichotomy. When I was growing up it was believed that genetic influences vs. socialization influences was a 50-50 proposition. Recent advances in medical tech and research methods, though, astonishingly reveal that the proposition is actually 95-5, in favor of genetics in both physical and psychological phenomenon. Although this particular study reported here finds socialization to be a greater determinant than genetics, what is also true is that the psychological predisposition of the parent is largely genetically determined. And, so, we are back at a focus of using money for research that continues to explore genetic roots of our behaviors.

ElisabethMorgan July 13, 2009, 10:38 PM

Let the denial begin!

Anonymous March 29, 2011, 12:26 PM

Yo This Is Maybe True. I Am Like Under 18 BUT I KNOW

Anonymous March 29, 2011, 12:27 PM

Yo This Is Maybe True. I Am Like Under 18 BUT I KNOW

Anonymous March 29, 2011, 12:33 PM

Hey This The Same UNDER 18 Person. Not A Serious Thing But They Spelled Behavior Wrong-B-E-H-A-V-I-O-R. :)

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