Research: Less healthy choices by Mom increase obesity risk in their children


Mothers lifestyle choices play a significant role in childhood obesity risk

Obese Family

Obese Family

The goal in writing this article is to expand your understanding of the effects of your lifestyle choices on your children and family.  The hope is that it will assist you in maintaining and increasing your drive to stay on the path to health that you have started.  I have no intent on increasing regret and guilt because negative emotion like regret and remorse will lead to a spiral of increase bad behavior and not increased motivation.   I would love to tell you that your choices as a parent do affect your child’s risk for obesity.  

A new study published in the Brittish Medical Journal in July of 2018 confirms that a mother’s lifestyle can play a significant role in a child’s risk for obesity[1].  The objective of the study was to examine the association between an overall maternal lifestyle and the risk of developing obesity in offspring.  In particular, researchers looked at the effects of the alcohol intake, body mass index, diet quality, regular exercise, and smoking.  The study was an observational study.  The subjects of the study were a group of nearly 25,000 non-obese participants of the GUTS study (Growing Up Today Study).  The subjects were between 9 and 14 years at baseline who were free of obesity. During the investigation, nearly 1300 participants became obese.  Mothers who maintained a healthy BMI, who were non-smokers, and who managed a low alcohol consumption had a 75% lower risk for obesity compared to kids of mothers who didn’t.  That statistic is incredibly significant.  

The bottom line:  Preventing childhood obesity should include family interventions that center on increasing healthy decisions by the whole family.  The research focuses on mothers and shows that healthy lifestyles by Mom increase the likelihood that their children will avoid obesity.   These findings highlight the potential benefits of implementing family or parental based multifactorial interventions to curb the risk of childhood obesity.  I suspect that similar results will be found for Dad as well as Mom.  Further studies are needed, and this study is observation and implies a link but not causality.  It merely highlights the importance of healthy decisions.  


K. Dhana et al., “Association between maternal adherence to healthy lifestyle practices and risk of obesity in offspring: results from two prospective cohort studies of mother-child pairs in the United States,” B, p. k2486, Jul. 2018 [Online]. Available: 10.1136/bmj.k2486″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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