Obese Fathers (Not Obese Mothers) Increase Their Children’s Risk of Obesity

A new study finds that paternal obesity significantly increases the risk of obesity in children, but not maternal obesity.




The incidence of obesity has skyrocketed over the past 10 years, and at this time, nearly two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese.  Moreover, fat- and sugar-packed foods, combined with sedentary lifestyles, have resulted not only in an epidemic of obesity among adults, but even our children and teens are heavier than ever before.

A newly published prospective public health study, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, has reported a rather interesting finding regarding obesity patterns in Australian families.  This study, which appears in the current issue of theInternational Journal of Obesity, followed more than 3,000 men, women and children in two-parent families between 2004 and 2008.  Height and weight data was collected on all family members during this 4-year study.

Not surprisingly, obesity was more common, in general, among the children of obese parents.  However, a very interesting phenomenon was observed in that childhood obesity was significantly associated with having an overweight or obese father and a mother of normal weight, but not with having a normal weight father and an overweight or obese mother.  In this study, children with an overweight or obese father (but a normal weight mother) were nearly 15 times more likely to be obese than children without obese parents.  (Once again, however, having an overweight or obese mother, and a normal weight father, was not associated with an increased risk of childhood obesity when compared to children with normal weight parents.)

While this study was not designed to explain why paternal obesity appeared to increase the risk of childhood obesity, while maternal obesity apparently did not, this unexpected finding suggests that either behavioral or genetic factors (or both) linked to obesity in fathers have a particularly strong impact on their children’s risk of also becoming overweight or obese.  The results of this study also suggest that interventions to prevent childhood obesity may be especially important in families with overweight or obese fathers.

As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, the incidence of obesity has skyrocketed over the past 10 years, and obesity is known to significantly increase the risk of multiple types of cancer, including cancers of the breast, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, uterus, colon, rectum, and other organs.  In fact, even conservative estimates suggest that at least 10 percent of all cancer cases are directly linked to obesity.  If you are overweight or obese, please consult with your doctor about safe, evidence-based approaches to weight loss.

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.

Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author

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