Latino children who are inactive may be modeling their sedentary parents, thereby increasing their own risk for obesity, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics and reported by Fox News Latino.

Obesity among U.S. preschoolers is a severe problem, with numbers doubling in the past 30 years and Latinos making up a large portion of those numbers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, low-income, preschool Latino children had the second highest rate of obesity, after American Indian/Alaska Native preschoolers.

For the study, researchers at the Vanderbilt University Kennedy Center measured core muscle activity of 80 Hispanic parents and 85 of their preschool-aged kids. For one week, participants (mostly mothers and first-generation Mexican immigrants) wore a device that registered muscle movement every 10 seconds.

Researchers found that parents spent 80 percent of their day being sedentary and their children, ages 3 to 5, spent nearly 70 percent of their day the same way. The children were essentially modeling their parents’ behavior, spending about four hours a day around media.

“We were shocked,” said Shari Barkin, lead researcher. “We expected children in this age group to be constantly moving, but they were almost as sedentary as their parents.”

This reinforces earlier research that found children of immigrants tended to be more sedentary than their U.S. counterparts. Lack of activity can lead to obesity, which in turn, can lead to related health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

To help fight obesity, parents need to change their behavior in two ways: what they eat and what they do.

“Parents really matter,’ Barkin said. “That has huge implications.”