Parental Weight Changes as Key Predictors of Child Weight Changes

Helen Andriani; Chu-Yung Liao; Hsien-Wen Kuo


BMC Public Health. 2015;15(645) 

In This Article


Background: Parents are the key agents of behavioural changes in their children. This fact is as an important aspect of obesity treatment and prevention. The present study aims to evaluate the influence of parents who have gained or lost weight on their children's weights and to examine parental and child patterns of weight changes from a baseline over a 14-year duration.

Methods: We performed a secondary analysis on the Indonesia Family Life Survey (IFLS), an ongoing national prospective longitudinal cohort study in Indonesia. Height and weight measurements, information regarding parental education, maternal employment, household income, and residence were collected from children under five years old (n = 3,147) and their parents in 1993. Data were taken from the same individuals at different points in time, in 1997, 2000, and 2007.

Results: During each transition, the children of parents who gained weight had a significantly weights than did children of parents who lost weight. A mother's positive weight change increased the chance of her pre-schooler's or school-aged child's positive weight change. However we found no such association between a father's positive weight change and his child's positive weight change.

Conclusions: Parental weight change is an independent predictor of child weight change. Positive weight change in the mother had a more dominant influence than did the father's positive weight change. Future family-based obesity prevention and treatment programs should consider how best to include and engage mothers as a catalyst for the reduction of obesity-related risk factors in the long term.