Are you going to have a fat kid? Plug a few factors into a simple equation and you could have your answer as soon as the baby's born, according to researchers at Imperial College London.
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Researchers looked at the records of 4,000 Finnish newborns and tracked things like their birth weight and the Body Mass Index (BMI) of their parents. After following the babies and weighing them at ages 7 and 16, researchers created an equation to predict just how heavy your baby is bound to be--and it's based on your habits.
Sure, genetics play a role, but researchers believe that it's actually the habits fat families share--such as poor diet and exercise routines--that put kids at risk for becoming obese, says the study's lead researcher, Philippe Forguel, M.D., Ph.D., professor at Imperial College London. (Click here for 7 Ways to Get Active with Your Kids.)
That helps explain some of the study's wonky results--like how having a smaller family or a working mother can slightly increase a child's risk of becoming overweight. Both factors can predict a family's lifestyle and economic security, Dr. Forguel says. Working moms may have less time to prepare healthy meals, and in smaller families, parents are generally younger and not bringing in the money to pay for healthy lifestyles.
The good news: Of all the obesity risk factors you can control, dad's weight matters most. The bad news: Over 72 percent of guys are overweight, and for reasons researchers don't understand, increasing your BMI by a single point ups your kid's chance of becoming overweight by 11 percent.
But because family habits matter more than your BMI, your kid isn't doomed to an overweight future just because you have a beer belly. Make small changes: According to researchers at Dartmouth College, if every kid in the country either walked or rode his bike to school at least four times a week, the national obesity rate would be cut by 22 percent. Live in a busy area? Translate that amount of time to a p.m. bike ride, or morning stroll before school. Here are Dr. Oz's favorite tips for raising healthy kids.
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