You are what you eat—or as it turns out, you are what your mom eats. A new study has revealed how parent lifestyles can affect their child’s weight and there are five things you can do that may decrease the chances of your kids becoming obese.

A recent study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who adhered to five specific healthy habits were less likely to raise obese kids than moms who didn’t. The five habits the study focused on included a high quality diet, regular exercise, a healthy body mass index (BMI), no smoking and light to moderate alcohol consumption.

The researchers examined data from 24,289 kids enrolled in the Growing Up Today study and concluded that when moms followed at least four out of the five habits the risk of obesity was lowered among their kids. When moms followed all five of the habits the risk was lowered by 75 percent.

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The study also looked at the impact of each habit individually. Of the five habits, diet was surprisingly the least associated with affecting the risk level. Body mass index had a big impact with a 56 percent lowered risk for kids of women who maintained a healthy BMI of 18.5 to 24.9. Kids of moms who were non-smokers were 31 percent less likely to become obese than those whose moms were smokers.

“Our study was the first to demonstrate that an overall healthy lifestyle really outweighs any individual healthy lifestyle factors followed by mothers when it comes to lowering the risk of obesity in their children,” said Qi Sun, lead author of the study and assistant professor at Harvard’s Department of Nutrition.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Sarah Pflug via Burst

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