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Child obesity linked to fat parents: report

Children with fat parents or in poor families are at higher risk for becoming obese, according to a report released Monday.

Researchers at Inje University Paik Hospital said children who have a higher body mass index tend to have parents with a higher BMI than average. Korean adults who have a BMI of 25 or higher are classified as obese.

The team led by professor Kang Jae-heon at Department of Family Medicine studied 1,502 elementary students for the past two years to find major factors that increase risk of obesity. About one-third of the respondents were in first grade and the rest were in fourth.

Both age groups showed that kids born to and living with overweight parents or in low-income families had a higher chance of becoming obese.

The report said children in low-income families had more fast food chains nearby on average. Their parents were also more lenient toward bad eating habits, it added.

Obese kids in the fourth grade, in particular tend to have mothers with a higher BMI and an unhealthy diet. Fathers did not have an impact on their children becoming obese in this group, the report said.

The team also revealed that children who slept nine hours a day had an average BMI 0.5 lower than those who had 8.5 hours of sleep.

“Factors varied in the two age groups, but both showed that parents were the main factor contributing to their higher BMI,” lead author Kang said.

“Most of the factors are controllable at home. So parents need to give extra attention to their kids,” he added.

The report was published in a recent edition of The Korean Academy of Family Medicine.

By Cho Chung-un (