02/07/2014 06:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Will Your Child Grow Up To Be Slim Or Heavy?

Can you tell if your child is going to grow up to be slim or heavy?

While genetics plays a big role, it turns out that there are a few childhood experiences that people with lower BMIs have in common, according to a new study first reported by Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab:

  • Families prepared meals with fresh ingredients.
  • Families did outdoor physical activities together.
  • Parents talked to children about nutrition.
  • Children had a healthy number of hours of sleep on weeknights.
  • Someone packed school lunch for children.

People with heavier BMIs, by contrast, had these childhood experiences in common:

  • Parents used food as a reward or punishment for children.
  • Parents restricted children's food intake.
  • Parents and/or grandparents were obese.
  • Children drank juice or soda more than water.
  • Children were bullied by peers.

Researchers uncovered these common childhood experiences by recruiting participants on social media to crowdsource questions and answers about how to predict obesity. The data collection took two weeks and involved 532 people, the majority of whom were women and from the U.S.

The study is the result of an international collaboration between researchers at the University of Amsterdam, the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the University of Vermont, the Institute for Environmental Decisions and Cornell University. It was published in the medical journal PLOS one and the findings are presented in the infographic below.

slim adult infographic