Lack of siblings linked to obesity

By Emily Miller • Published: November 14th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Although siblings can be a source of frustration, there is at least one perk to not being an only child: People with siblings are less likely to be overweight.

A recent European study found that being an only child is a risk factor for being obese. In fact, kids who don’t have a sibling have a 50 percent higher chance of being overweight than kids who have a brother or sister.

The nearly 13,000 children surveyed in the study ranged from in age from 2 to 9 and were from eight countries in Europe. Even after controlling for other factors like parental weight, gender and birth weight, singleton kids still had a higher chance of being overweight or obese than peers from bigger broods.

Other findings from the study showed that only children were less likely to live with both parents and more likely to have a television in their rooms. Researchers also noted that the longer a child lives without siblings the greater the risk there is of becoming obese.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obese children are more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and breathing problems … among other things. Obese children and adolescents also have a greater risk of social and psychological problems.

But fear not, parents. Having a second child is not the only way to combat childhood obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to limit television time for kids to no more than one to two hours of quality programming per day. And diet makes a big difference. Parents should offer plenty of fruits, veggies and other healthy fare, and serve water instead of sugary drinks. Also, make sure your child gets plenty of physical activity every day.

Good tips to follow whether you have one child or six.