Having a younger sibling may reduce risk of childhood obesity

By Rebecca Burton • Published: June 29th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Having several children household can be tricky, especially when the sibling rivalry kicks in and the headaches start. But recent research also shows that having a sibling can have health benefits. A new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that kids with younger siblings have a lower risk of developing childhood obesity than those who are the lone child in a home.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Michigan, analyzed records of nearly 700 children across the United States. The results showed that the birth of a sibling, particularly when the older child was between 2 and 4 years old, was linked to a healthier body mass index by first grade. Children of the same age who had no sibling were almost three times more likely to be overweight or obese by first grade.

The findings could be due to the fact that eating habits change when another child is brought into a household, researchers said. The children may also play more, since they have a friend to spend time with.

But if you’re not ready to have a second child, there are plenty of ways to keep your young one active and socialized. Parents magazine suggests enrolling your child in sports, clubs or taking him or her to a neighborhood park frequently so your little one has play time with other children of the same age.

The Michigan researchers also noted that children develop most of their long-lasting eating habits when they are about 3 years old. So be sure to teach them to eat a balanced diet with fruits, vegetables and grains early on to prevent developing childhood obesity.