A Greek study conducted by Harokopio University in Athens has confirmed the belief amongst health professionals that child obesity risk is much higher when parents themselves are overweight.
Over 2300 pre-school children, attending 105 nurseries around Greece, were recruited into the study during 2004. Researchers collected data on weight and height and used this to calculate body mass index (BMI). Children were then classified as ‘normal’, ‘at risk of overweight’ or ‘overweight’ depending upon their BMI. At the same time, parents were asked to complete questionnaires about their age, educational level and weight and height. Parental BMI was then estimated.
The results showed that 32% of the children were overweight, which is much higher than the 21% expected using international predictions. Children with 1 obese parent were almost twice as likely to be overweight than children whose parents were of normal weight. Children with two obese parents were 2.4 times more likely to be overweight.
The authors concluded that parental BMI strongly influenced whether or not a child was overweight.
For more information, see
Manios Y et al (2007). Prevalence of obesity in preschool Greek children, in relation to parental characteristics and region of residence. BioMed Central Public Health, Vol 7, page 178 (online publication).
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