Are dads to blame for unhealthy kids? New study shows obese fathers more likely to have overweight children

Are dads to blame for unhealthy kids New study shows obese fathers more likely to have overweight children

New research has linked fathers' weights to their childrens' – finding that an obese man is more likely to have obese children.

The Australian study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, 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.

Little and large: New research finds that families with obese fathers and normal weight mothers are more likely to have obese children, possibly because of their role model status

Little and large: New research finds that families with obese fathers and normal weight mothers are more likely to have obese children, possibly because of their role model status

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.

Today Mums says that 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.

In an email to Today Mums, study co-author Emily Freeman, from the university's Family Action Centre, said that the results merited prompt action: '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 health scientist went on to say that a father's position as a role model may be influencing children's weights.

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, says the scientist.