Study shows having siblings can reduce risk of obesity

FILE - A mother enjoys time with her kids. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – New research says having a younger brother or sister may be good for your health.

According to researchers at the University of Michigan, kids with younger siblings are less at risk for obesity.

Researchers monitored almost 700 kids in the United States from the time they were born until they turned six.

They found kids from families with an only child are 300 percent more likely to develop obesity by the first grade.

The study said having siblings does not prevent obesity, but the number of siblings affects some key lifestyle changes related to becoming obese.

“It is possible that when there is a younger sibling in the family, a child might become more active – for example running around more with their toddler sibling,” lead author Dr. Julie Lumeng told Modern Readers. “Maybe families are more likely to take the kids to the park when there is a younger sibling, or maybe the child is less likely to be sedentary, watching TV, when there is a younger sibling to engage them in more active pretend play.”

Another possible reason why having siblings can decrease the risk for becoming obese is the changes in the eating habits of the family. Parents of an only child might be more likely to indulge their kids with lots of food. Parents of two or more children might be more likely to encourage sharing of food.

There are several health risks linked to obesity. Obese people are more likely to develop heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, gallbladder disease, gallstones, bone problems, gout, asthma and breathing difficulties, according to WebMD.

 

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