Conditions

Being An Only Child Increases Risk Of Obesity

Some people think that having one child offers many benefits, from less stress and expenses to better focus on their growth. But an only child may not always experience positive effects of great attention provided by their parents. 

A new study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, found that being an only child increases the risk of obesity. That is because of small families are more likely to have unhealthy eating practices and beverage choices compared to those with multiple children.

"Nutrition professionals must consider the influence of family and siblings to provide appropriate and tailored nutrition education for families of young children," lead study author Chelsea Kracht said in a statement. "Efforts to help all children and families establish healthy eating habits and practices must be encouraged."

Kracht conducted the study during her PhD program at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Her team asked parents and teachers to record the daily food consumption of children at home and school.

Mothers also took the Family Nutrition and Physical Activity questionnaire that focused on family eating behaviors. Researchers found that children’s food consumption at home and school have different effects. 

Spending time in away-from-home care, such as school and daycare, did not contribute to children's eating patterns. However, changes occurred when the only child returned home and got exposed to their family’s habits, like eating in front of the television and consumption of sugary drinks. 

"Healthier eating behaviors and patterns may result from household-level changes rather than peer exposure, as peer exposure is also present in away-from-home care," Kracht said.

Another surprising finding of the study is that mothers of only children were more likely to be obese themselves. The researchers also found a strong connection between maternal BMI and child BMI.

Kracht and her colleagues plan to continue the study to further understand household and family dynamics and their impact on children's eating behavior. The next study will also include the children’s physical activity, sleep and other factors contributing to obesity.

Childhood obesity is considered as a serious medical condition. It increases a child’s risk of depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Child Childhood obesity is considered a serious medical condition linked to poor food choices and higher risk of depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Pixabay

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