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Television, parents’ lifestyle can be blamed for childhood obesity

Some research studies have shown that the mother’s lifestyle habits play a significant role in childhood obesity. © Shutterstock

Watching television and not being active may cause childhood obesity. But parents' lifestyle habits may also make a child obese.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : December 13, 2019 11:46 AM IST

According to a new research at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Spain, watching television is one of the most dangerous lifestyle habits of modern children. It can make them morbidly obese. Researchers say that identifying habits linked to overweight and childhood obesity in the early stages of life can help them to define preventive strategies against other conditions, such as cardiovascular and metabolic diseases during adulthood.

For the purpose of the study, researchers looked at five lifestyle habits, physical activity, sleep time, television time, plant-based food consumption and ultra-processed food consumption. They saw that children who were less active and spent more time in front of the television at four years of age were at greater risk of being overweight and suffer from metabolic syndrome at seven years of age. They also looked at the time spent by children on other sedentary activities like reading, drawing and doing puzzles. But these did not make them obese.

The above study is yet another attempt by experts to find the cause of childhood obesity. Of course, a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy habits make kids obese. But sometimes, you, as a parent, may also be contributing to it unwittingly. Your lifestyle choices may also be making your kid obese.

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Parents always want the best for their children. Whether it comes to healthy diets, team sports or certain school districts, parents are going to choose the best of the best to ensure that their child is taken care of to the best of their ability. However, as a parent, did you know that your lifestyle habits also have an impact on your child's health?

Some research studies have shown that the mother's lifestyle habits play a significant role in childhood obesity. This recent study, published in The BMJ, reviewed health information from 24,289 children aged 9 to 14 and found a connection between mothers who followed healthy diets, worked out regularly, maintained a normal BMI, drank alcohol in moderation and did not smoke were 75 per cent less likely to be obese than mothers who lived unhealthy lifestyles. Mothers and children who followed these five healthy habits together were 82 per cent less likely to suffer from obesity.


Qi Sun, M.D., a researcher and associate professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, shared his knowledge on how these five habits impact your child's health.

Regular Exercise

Active mothers often set an example for their kids to be active as well. Mothers who engage in beneficial physical activities such as cycling, running and swimming, spend their time doing these activities with their children. Additionally, mothers who are more regular with their workout routines are more likely to sign their kids up for team sports such as basketball or baseball.

Nutritious Diet

Moms who follow healthy diets will be more mindful of the snacks they give their children and encourage them to eat healthier foods. By engaging their kids in healthy eating habits at an early age, they are able to keep their child's weight at a healthy level. When children see their mother snacking on fruits and veggies, they are more likely to snack on these foods rather than unhealthy ones.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

A study that included 215 mother-son and 212 mother-daughter pairs showed a strong correlation between maternal BMI and the risk of childhood obesity. These findings were linked to a combination of the home environment and genetics. BMI is a good indication of physical activity and diet and a strong factor for predicting childhood obesity.

Alcohol in Moderation

Drinking alcohol in moderation lowers the risk of many health issues such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and certain heart disease. The BMJ research found that children of parents who drank in moderation were less likely to be obese.


Some research has shown that children who are exposed to parents who smoke are more likely to follow in their parent's footsteps and pick up a cigarette. While second-hand smoke causes harmful health problems in children, it has also shown that children have a higher risk of becoming obese when their parents smoke. Staying away from tobacco can go a long way in helping your child live a healthier lifestyle and reduce their risk of obesity.


It's never too late to incorporate a healthier lifestyle in your household. By making small changes such as reducing alcohol consumption or adding more veggies to your diet can go a long way in keeping your child and the whole family healthy and happy.

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