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A Child's Health Behaviours and Body Mass Index (BMI) are influenced by the Parent's BMI

Aseer Khan

Parents and child’s body mass index (BMI) are strongly associated, but their relationship varies by child’s sex and age. Parental BMI reflects, among other factors, parents’ behaviors and home environment, which influence their child’s behaviors and weight. This study examined the indirect effect of parent’s BMI on child’s BMI via child health behaviors, conditional on child’s sex and age. Parental BMI was related to %BMIp95 across all age groups, and was strongest in 11-12 yr. children. Parental BMI was positively associated with boys’ fruit and vegetable (FV) intake and girls’ sugarsweetened beverage (SSB) intake. Compared to 2-4 yr., older children had less FVs and physical activity, more screen time and SSB, and higher %BMIp95. Mediation effects were not significant. Parental BMI was associated with child’s %BMIp95 and some child behaviors, and this association was stronger in older children; older children also exhibited less healthy behaviors. Age- and sex-specific interventions that focus on age-related decreases in healthy behaviors and parental strategies for promoting healthy behaviors among at-risk children are needed to address this epidemic of childhood obesity. Prevention of childhood obesity is a public health priority, because obesity in childhood increases risk of obesity in adulthood and is associated with long-term adverse health consequences.