London: If one wants to predict whether a baby is going to have a weight problem in the future, they must look at their dad, a new study has said.
The Australian study looked at the weights of eight- and nine-year-old children from two-parent families where one parent was obese.
The report found that “having an overweight or obese father, but a healthy weight mother, significantly increased the odds of child obesity”, while the reverse did not hold true.
The findings go against popularly held beliefs that mothers, who tend to spend more time with children than fathers as well as usually controlling food shopping and meals, have more influence over children’s weight.
According to Today Mums, scientists had before theorised that the sex of offspring was an important factor when it came to parents`` sizes affecting obesity.
It was thought that obese mums were more likely to have obese daughters and obese fathers would similarly be more likely to have obese sons. The new evidence throws that into doubt.
The counter-intuitive results, yielded from 3,825 children, have surprised the University of Newcastle, NSW, scientists, who have not yet isolated the reasons for the correlation.
“We felt that it was very important to get the message out there straight away that dads have a big role in keeping their children healthy,” the Daily Mail quoted Emily Freeman, the co-author of the study, as writing in an email to Today Mums.
The health scientist went on to say that a father’s position as a role model may be influencing children’s weights.
The researchers added that a dad who eats his greens and heads to the park for exercise is undoubtedly setting a good example - and one that is corroborated by anecdotal evidence when it comes to healthy children.
The study has been published in the International Journal of Obesity.