A study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health USA, found that children and adolescents whose mother’s follow some selected healthy habits: exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, keeping a healthy body weight, not smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation, were 75 percent less likely to become obese compared to children whose mothers did not follow any such habit.
According to the study, smoking, physical inactivity and maternal obesity had a strong association with obesity among children and adolescents included in the study. Children whose mothers maintained a healthy body weight were 56% less likely to develop obesity compared to those whose mothers did not. Further, children of mothers who did not smoke had a 31% less chance of becoming obese, compared to the children whose mothers smoked. On the other hand, mothers dietary practices was not associated with childhood obesity, probably because a good number of children sometimes get food from school or other places away from home. Data regarding alcohol consumption was however not sufficient to determine its influence on childhood obesity.
Now this study shows how important a mother’s lifestyle is to the health of their children, and encourages family support in the US context. It encourages parenting strategies that could help prevent childhood obesity. While this sounds practical, closer home, it may be affected by a number of factors, including that children and adolescents are under the care of many other people as parents work, while older children and adolescents are often mistakenly considered independent and therefore not really followed up especially on their diet and physical acitivity, leaving them vulnerable.
Today family routines as well as caregiving practices have changed a great deal. It would be interesting to learn how these shifts have affected childhood and adolescent obesity.
They say, children are a product of their environment. Well, who is your child learning from?
Full research article: 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