With Father’s Day around the corner, here’s one more reason to appreciate Dad: His parenting style has great potential to impact his children’s weight. An Australian study involving nearly 5,000 4- and 5-year-olds found that laissez-faire fathers were more likely to have obese children when compared to fathers with a more structured approach to parenting. Surprisingly, no such association was found on the mothers’ side, though other studies suggest parents with low concern over their progeny’s weight have the heaviest children.

This discovery adds to what we already know about predictors for childhood obesity, such as birth weight, mother’s obesity, bottle-feeding (and in particular, letting children take bottles to bed). Meanwhile, let the fathers in your life know how much you appreciate their healthful influence by teaching them in turn which foods can protect them against prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and a variety of other ailments.

Published June 1, 2013