Child's BMI 35% to 40% due to genetic inheritance, study shows

A child inherits around 35 percent to 40 percent of their body mass index from their parents, according to a study published in Economics and Human Biology.

The research team, headed by the United Kingdom-based University of Sussex, examined data on the heights and weights of 100,000 children and their parents spanning the United Kingdom, United States, China, Indonesia, Spain and Mexico.

The researchers found the intergenerational transmission of BMI is approximately constant at around 0.2 per parent, which means that a child's BMI is 20 percent due to their mother and 20 percent due to their father, on average. Additionally, obese children inherit around 55 percent to 60 percent of their BMI from their parents. These results are consistent across all countries in the study.

"These findings have far-reaching consequences for the health of the world's children," said lead author Professor Peter Dolton, PhD, of the University of Sussex. "They should make us rethink the extent to which obesity is the result of family factors, and our genetic inheritance, rather than decisions made by us as individuals."

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