Obesity appears to follow gender lines in families, say British researchers who found that obese mothers were 10 times more likely to have obese daughters and obese fathers were six times more likely to have obese sons.
But the study of 226 families found that obese mothers and fathers didn't have an effect on children of the opposite sex, BBC News reported.
The findings suggest that the link is behavioral rather than genetic, which means that policies on fighting obesity may need to be reconsidered, the researchers said.
"It is the reverse of what we have thought and this has fundamental implications for policy," said study leader Professor Terry Wilkin of the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth, BBC News reported. "We should be targeting the parents and that is not something we have really done to date."
The study was published in the International Journal of Obesity.