Fat parents to blame for childhood obesity epidemic by over-feeding under-fives, study finds

Telegraph (UK) 31 Jan 2010

Overweight parents who simply feed their children too much at a young age are to largely blame for Britain’s childhood obesity crisis, a report will warn this week. The Government’s policy of tackling childhood obesity by encouraging primary school children to take more exercise has been challenged by scientists who say childhood obesity is on the increase because parents are over-feeding their children when they are. The study claims that the Government may be misguided in its policy of trying to tackle the problem through expensive projects aimed at persuading children in primary school to eat healthily and exercise more. Instead, the report suggests, they should focus on educating new parents and parents-to-be to feed their children less before they start school, so they do not become overweight in the first place. Parents must learn to reduce portion sizes it suggests.

The findings from one of the few long-term studies on childhood obesity in Britain show that daughters of overweight mothers are 10 times more likely to be obese by the time they reach the age of eight than a daughter born to a slim mother. Sons of obese fathers are six times more likely to be overweight, according to the research from scientists working on the EarlyBird Diabetes Project at the medical school in Plymouth. Children of fat parents tended to be over-fed and under-exercised, setting them on a trajectory towards obesity, it found. The chief cause of weight gain, the report said, was “over-nutrition” of children by their parents.