The phrase “like father, like son” now takes on a more serious meaning. According to an Australian study of more than 3000 families, four-year-olds who had fathers who were overweight or obese were at least four times more likely than other children to have weight problems by the time they reached eight.
The researchers investigated patterns in two-parent families, tracking their children between the ages of four and eight. In each case, only one parent was overweight or obese. Interestingly, if the mother was overweight it did not seem to affect the weight of the children.
“We know that when both parents are overweight or obese, their children are more likely to also be overweight or obese,” said researcher Emily Freeman.
That part is logical, since parents are the providers and if they are buying unhealthy food, children have no choice but to eat what they are fed. While the study did not investigate the reasoning behind the troublesome link, it seems obvious that kids have some sort of special reverence to the way their fathers eat.
“These results show we urgently need to test whether treating overweight fathers would be a successful strategy in childhood obesity prevention or treatment,” Freeman said.