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Overweight adults drawn together

Parents who are overweight are putting their children's lives at risk by contributing to a self-perpetuating obesity spiral, a study shows.

Researchers writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people choose partners with a similar body fat level to their own.

But this predisposition, known as "assortive mating", could be contributing to the world's obesity epidemic.

This is down to the fact that children who have overweight mothers and fathers receive a double dose of the genes that make them susceptible to piling on the pounds.

Scientists have known for years that people tend to marry in their own class and race, but this is the first time weight has been linked.

The study was conducted by experts at Aberdeen's Rowett Research Institute and Aberdeen University.

Professor John Speakman, of Aberdeen University, said the phenomenon around body fat is relatively new, because in the 1940s people got married in their early 20s, often before they were overweight.

"Nowadays, we choose partners and have children much later, but if we are going to become obese, on average we do so much younger.

"This makes it possible for potential partners to select each other on the basis of body fatness," he added.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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