Australian researchers found that it is fathers who should be blamed for children’s obesity instead of often blamed mothers.

The researchers compared the BMIs of 5,000 four and five-year-olds and looked at ways their parents behaved towards them. Fathers who played less of a role in child rearing and who did not set clear limits were more likely to have heavier children. Mother’s parenting style was found to have little impact on whether a child was overweight or not.

This is the first study to suggest that health experts should focus on the whole family in the effective prevention of childhood obesity and that men could have a major role in the problem. Among the families investigated, 40% of mothers and more than 60% of fathers were themselves overweight.