Is Kiddo too fat? Mom’s just part of the story …

Have you noticed that we moms tend to take a big dose of the blame when kids are overweight or obese? After all, we do shoulder much of the responsibility for food purchases and meal prep, but does the buck really stop here?
Check out these stats* and then share them with the dad in your life. It may be a shock to both of you.
  • The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth found that obese children are more likely to live in father-absent homes than are non-obese children.

A study that looked at family lifestyle and parent’s Body Mass Index (BMI) over a nine year period found:

  • Father’s Body Mass Index (BMI) predicted son’s and daughter’s BMI independent of offspring’s alcohol intake, smoking, physical fitness, and father’s education.
  • BMI in sons and daughters was consistently higher when fathers were overweight or obese.
  • Physical fitness of daughters was negatively related to their father’s obesity
  • Obesity of fathers was associated with a four-fold increase in the risk of obesity of sons and daughters at age 18.
  • A father’s body mass index (a measurement of the relative composition of fat and muscle mass in the human body) is directly related to a child’s activity level. In a study of 259 toddlers, more active children were more likely to have a father with a lower BMI than less active children.

A study that looked at dietary intake and physical activity of parents and their daughters over a two year period found:

  • Daughter’s BMI was predicted by father’s diet and father’s enjoyment of physical activity.
  • As father’s BMI rose, so did daughter’s BMI.
  • A study that looked at the relationship between parent’s total and percentage body fat and daughter’s total body fat over a two and one-half year period found that father’s, not mother’s, total and percentage body fat was the best predictor of changes in daughter’s total and percentage body fat.

Two studies that have looked at the determinants of physical activity in obese and non-obese children found:

  • Obese children are less likely to report that their fathers were physically active than were the children of non-obese fathers. This was not found for mothers.
  • Fathers inactivity is a strong predictor of children’s inactivity.
  • Children who live with single mothers are significantly more likely to become obese by a 6-year follow-up, as were black children, children with nonworking parents, children with nonprofessional parents, and children whose mothers did not complete high school.
* from the National Fatherhood Initiative
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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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