Obesity is passed on from parents to children, not only because of hereditary factors but because of unhealthy lifestyles, according to a study released Monday.
A team led by Prof. Kang Jae-heon at Inje University Seoul Paik Hospital followed 1,504 elementary schoolchildren from 2008 to 2010 to find out what affected their body mass index.
Kang said obesity is only 30 percent genetically determined, leaving 70 percent for environmental factors such as frequent eating between meals, high calorie intake and lack of sleep.
The BMI is a measure of obesity calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of their height.
The older the child, the more influential environmental factors. Among first-graders, parents' BMI was the most powerful factor affecting their own obesity, but among older children lifestyle factors came increasingly into play.
The shape of mothers was more influential than that of fathers. Kang advised obese parents to be especially careful to ensure that their children have a healthy lifestyle because the risk that they too will become obese is much greater.