UPBEAT: Can fathers influence the development of childhood obesity?

Do paternal characteristics – such as age, race, BMI, existing health conditions, diet and physical activity levels – affect whether their child is overweight or obese?

Start: September 2018

End: August 2019

Childhood obesity is a major global public health problem. In the UK, around one in ten 4–5 year olds are clinically obese.

It is crucial that we understand the causes of childhood obesity so that we can improve public health nationally and internationally, and also prevent chronic disease later in life.

Obesity can often run in families, and is influenced by genetics and parental behaviours. Several studies have looked into whether childhood obesity is related to mother's obesity and also whether infant feeding practices – for example, whether babies are breast or bottle fed, and when solids are introduced – can have a long-term effect on the weight of a child.

Is childhood obesity affected by father's lifestyle and genetics?

However, we don’t know very much about how childhood obesity is influenced by the health and habits of fathers. We want to find out more.

We will look at information collected from over 1,500 families during the UPBEAT study, which was the largest ever study of obese pregnant women. We want to see if there is a link between paternal characteristics – such as age, race, BMI, existing health conditions, diet and physical activity levels – and whether their child is overweight or obese when they are 3 years old.

We will also look at whether these same characteristics in mothers have an effect on the weight of their child, so that we can better understand how mothers and fathers can together influence whether or not their child becomes obese.

We hope that the results of our study will lead to the development of other research programmes aimed at understanding the impact mothers and fathers can have on the weight of their children. We believe that this is important, as we want to work out how best to help families make healthy changes that will reduce the incidence of childhood obesity.

 

Join the fight for healthy pregnancies and babies

Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, and fighting to make pregnancy and birth safer. We can keep you updated on ways you can support our work. If you would like to join our fight, click here.

More about Tommy's research

  • Three pregnant women sitting in a row

    Research into health and wellbeing in pregnancy

    In addition to our core work on miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth and pre-eclampsia, Tommy’s also funds projects that research the effects of lifestyle and well-being on pregnancy and on the later life of the child.

  • Team of researchers

    Research into stillbirth

    When a baby dies after 24 weeks of gestation, it is called a stillbirth. Around 3,500 families a year get the devastating news that their baby is not alive. Our research is helping to change this.

  • Nurse monitoring premature baby in hospital

    Research into premature birth

    Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the UK. These babies are vulnerable – they are born before they have grown to cope with the outside world. Tommy’s is saving lives by researching how we can prevent premature births by finding those at risk early on.

  • Clinical researcher looking at test tube

    Research into miscarriage

    1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage.1 in 100 women have 3 or more miscarriages in a row. Research into this area of pregnancy loss has been underfunded for years.

News and views from Tommy's

Was this information useful?

Yes No

Comments

Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.

Your comment

Add new comment