Their eating, sleeping, and workout habits can have a big impact on your own

By Mirel Ketchiff
April 14, 2016

No matter how much you love your parents, I think everyone has the experience of growing up, moving out, and realizing that that one family tradition you thought was totally normal was actually, um, not. (Wait, you're telling me you don't dip pizza crusts in honey??) But when you're a kid, you don't know any better; in your mind, however your parents do things is the way things are done. Unfortunately, that means your parents also have the power to, well, screw you up-and in some pretty unexpected ways.

They Loved Them Some Junk Food

In one recent study in the journal Nature, the children of mice fed a high-fat diet were more likely to gain weight when they themselves ate a high-fat diet than the offspring of mice who ate a normal diet. Even scarier? Earlier research has shown that your parents' poor diet can increase your risk of problems like glucose intolerance and weight gain, even if you don't overeat.

They Had No Chill

If your parents are tightly wound, you may be more prone to anxiety too, according to a monkey study in the journal PNAS. The researchers put rhesus monkeys under a mild amount of stress, then scanned their brains to determine which ones had the most activity in the regions of the brain that control anxiety. Next, they compared the findings to the monkeys' family trees. The findings: About 35 percent of the variation in the monkey's anxious behaviors could be explained by family history.

They Were Coffee Addicts

Your genes play a role in how quickly you metabolize caffeine, and how you respond to coffee-whether it makes you jittery or energized, for example. And how coffee makes you feel determines how much of it you drink. So if your parents guzzle down java by the Thermos-full, you might be predisposed to do the same. (Is that a bad thing? Check out exactly how much coffee you should be drinking.)

They Were Afraid of the Floss Doctor

It may not be written into your DNA, but if your parents expressed a lot of anxiety about visiting the dentist when you were young, they likely passed that stress right along to you, research from Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid found.

They Had a Wandering Eye

Whether or not some people are more genetically inclined to cheat has been a hot topic in the world of science. The latest word: A recent study of more than 7,000 people showed that people with a genetic mutation that makes them resistant to the impact of vasopressin, a hormone that impacts our trust and empathy levels, may be more likely to step out on their SO.

They Avoided the Gym Like the Plague

It makes sense that if there was a lot of exercise going on at your house growing up, you'd be more inclined to be active too-and if your parents were more the type to loaf on the couch, you'd have a harder time figuring out how to create a gym habit yourself later on. Research bears that out, showing that active parents (especially mothers) tend to breed more active kids.

They Never, Ever Woke Up In Time for a Morning Run

Night owl? That's a preference that's deeply encoded in your genes, says science. Luckily, it is possible to train yourself to work out in the morning.

They Neglected Their Emergency Savings Fund

Your parents' spending habits have a bigger influence on your own than anything else, according to research from the University of Arizona. (Remember that the next time your mom and dad are on your case about contributing more to your 401(k).)

They Could never bring themselves to try kale

How open your parents are to trying new foods is a huge indicator of how adventurous your palate will be, according to a study in the journal Obesity. In fact, 72 percent of a kid's likelihood of avoiding new foods comes down to their genes. Other factors that play a role: having the TV on at mealtime and whether or not you ate family dinners.

They Drove Angry

Horn-happy moms and dads are more likely to raise aggressive teen drivers, research from Toyota and the University of Michigan shows. They can also pass on bad habits like texting or eating behind the wheel. Another reason to drive safe.


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