Scientists claim a so-called "skinny gene" could run in families - meaning thin parents have thin children.

A new study, carried out by researchers at University College London found that children with skinny parents were three times more likely to be thin than children who have overweight parents.

The study looked at the height and weight of parents and up to two children aged two to 15 years old from 7,000 families over a five year period. This was then used to calculate the participant's Body Mass Index (BMI).

The scientists claim the results show a "strong association" between children's and parents' body size.

Lead author Dr Katrina Whitaker said: "We know from other studies that children's weights are correlated with those of their parents, but previous research has tended to focus on obesity rather than the other end of the spectrum."

The findings are published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Posted by Robert Mair on 4/10/2011