Household Routines Help Prevent Childhood Obesity

Christine Nyholm's picture

A new national study suggests that preschool-aged children are likely to have a lower risk for obesity if they regularly engage in one or more of three specific household routines: eating dinner as a family, getting adequate sleep and limiting their weekday television viewing time.

Healthy habits are likely to lower risk of obesity for school aged children, which comes as no surprise. A new national study has found that three specific household routines are associated with lower risk of obesity. The routines mentioned were eating dinner as a family, getting adequate sleep and limiting weekday television viewing time.

Previous studies have linked obesity to watching too much TV, a lack of sleep and a low incidence of eating meals as a family. This new study by Ohio State University is the first to assess the combination of all three routines with prevalence of obesity in preschoolers.

In a large sample of the U.S. population, the study showed that 4-year-olds living in homes with all three routines had an almost 40 percent lower prevalence of obesity than did children living in homes that practiced none of these routines.

Other studies have linked obesity to the behaviors of excessive TV viewing, a lack of sleep and, to a lesser extent, a low frequency of family meals. But this is the first study to assess the combination of all three routines with obesity prevalence in a national sample of preschoolers.

Each of the three routines, taken individually, was associated with lower obesity. According to the analysis the routines were protective against obesity.

"The routines were protective even among groups that typically have a high risk for obesity. This is important because it suggests that there's a potential for these routines to be useful targets for obesity prevention in all children," said Sarah Anderson, assistant professor of epidemiology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study.

EurekAlert: Ohio State University; Family meals, adequate sleep and limited TV may lower childhood obesity 8-Feb-2010

Written by Christine Nyholm

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