The findings of this study highlight the crucial role a mother's lifestyle choices can have on her children's health and bolster support for family- or parent-based intervention strategies for reducing childhood obesity risk.
The best thing mothers can do to ensure their kids avoid developing obesity may be to take care of themselves.
That's the main takeaway from a study looking at mothers and children published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal.
Childhood obesity is an ongoing problem around the world, but in Canada, youth obesity rates have almost tripled in the last 30 years, the Government of Canada website reports. Now one in five children aged between six to 19 years old are obese.
Being obese as a child comes with serious long-term health effects, including higher risk for diseases including asthma, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, depression, and risk factors for heart disease.
The researchers said that although genetics play an important role in a person's obesity, its habits tend to be even more important.More news: Armed, barricaded suspect may be former NBA, UCLA basketball star
For this study, researchers focused on the association between a mother's lifestyle and the risk of obesity among her children and adolescents between 9 and 18 years of age.
While the greatest drop in obesity risk was seen when mothers and children followed healthy lifestyle habits, numerous healthy habits had a noticeable impact on the risk of childhood obesity when assessed individually. But the degree to which these behaviors made a difference may still be surprising.
Findings of the study by the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health show that risk was lowest among children whose mothers maintained a healthy weight, exercised regularly, did not smoke, ate a healthy diet, and were light to moderate drinkers.
The risk of obesity was also lower among children of mothers who consumed low or moderate levels of alcohol compared with those whose mothers abstained from alcohol.
150 minutes of exercise that is vigorous exercise per week.
Eating a healthy diet: This was scored according to adherence to the Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010, characterised by high intakes of vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains and unsaturated "good" fats, and low intakes of red and processed meat, sugary drinks and salty foods.More news: Women Connected To Mother Teresa's Charity Accused Of Trafficking Babies
The key: kids are less likely to be obese if their mothers follow five healthy habits, according to the report from Harvard.
However, mothers who followed all five habits boasted a 75% lower risk for their kids becoming obese than mothers who followed none of those habits.
The researchers found that 1,282 of the children, or 5.3 percent, developed obesity during a median five-year follow-up period. Since the mothers in this study were all female nurses, they tend to be a healthy and educated population, and their kids are significantly less likely to be obese than the rest of the population in general. Data from a wider swath of the United States population would be helpful.
He said BMI doesn't work "necessarily well" at an individual level, however at a population level "we know that high BMI is strongly associated with a lot of bad health outcomes".
We also need studies that show how paternal lifestyle might impact kids, the authors write in the study.More news: At least 24 dead, 50 missing as heavy rain hits southwestern Japan