London: Children whose parents are thin are thrice as likely to be lean than those with overweight parents, new research says.
The study by University College London (UCL) is based on results from the Health Survey for England, in which data is collected annually from multiple households.
From 2001 to 2006, trained interviewers recorded the height and weight of parents and up to two children in 7,000 families.
They used this information to calculate their Body Mass Index (BMI), a height to weight ratio, reports the journal Archives of Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
"We know from other studies that children`s weights are correlated with those of their parents, but previous research has tended to focus on obesity rather than the other end of the spectrum," said Katriina Whitaker who led the study.
When both parents were in the thinner half of the healthy weight range, the chance of the child being thin was 16.2 percent, compared with 7.8 percent when both parents were in the upper half of the healthy weight range while 5.3 percent were the chances in case of two overweight parents, according to a UCL statement.
Of the 7,078 children and teenagers in the study, 402 were categorised as thin according to International Obesity Task Force criteria.
Thinness was more common in younger children but no differences were observed by sex or socio-economic status.
Previous research shows that obesity runs in families partly because of parent-to-child transmission of multiple genes conferring a higher risk for adiposity (fatness).
Finding that leanness in children is related to that in parents suggests that thinness may be inherited in the same way.
Children of thin parents are likely to be genetically predisposed to have a lower body weight, the study suggests.