Overweight or single mums are more likely to breed chubby children, new
Australian research has found.
A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia shows a mother's weight
and marital status have more influence on childhood obesity than her parenting
The study found that family conflict, negative life events, and maternal
depression were not likely to affect a child's tendency to become overweight or
"We found that parenting style was not associated with childhood obesity,"
said lead author Dr Lisa Gibson, a psychologist with the Telethon Institute for
Child Health Research in Perth.
"Previous indications of a link between poor family functioning and childhood
obesity were based on studies without population-based data and without
observations across a range of theoretically important factors."
But parenting practices regarding eating and exercise may play a role in
childhood weight problems, Dr Gibson said.
"Children from single-parent families, particularly when there is a family
history of obesity, may struggle to maintain a healthy weight in an obesogenic
environment with restricted access to nutritious foods and adequate facilities
for recreational exercise," she said.
"The association between children's weight, maternal BMI (body mass index)
and family structure confirms the need to find ways of targeting prevention and
intervention efforts for childhood obesity at families with overweight parents,
particularly under-resourced single-parent families."