What are the roles of familial and environmental factors in childhood obesity?

Updated: Feb 20, 2019
  • Author: Steven M Schwarz, MD, FAAP, FACN, AGAF; Chief Editor: Jatinder Bhatia, MBBS, FAAP  more...
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Answer

Despite observations of an etiologic role for genetic and hormonal disorders, these factors alone do not explain the excess weight gain observed in most patients who have obesity and are referred to physicians for evaluation and treatment. Although most overweight children have a familial form of obesity, with 1 or 2 obese parents, excess weight gain in obese children clearly depends on both genetic and environmental factors. Correlations between parent and child habitus likely reflect, at least in part, the familial patterns of food intake, exercise, and selection of leisure activity (including amount of television watching), as well as familial and cultural patterns of food selection. Nevertheless, evidence from twin, adoption, and family studies suggests that genetic factors also play a considerable role in the development of childhood obesity.


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