Family Routines Cut Obesity Risks

Tuesday 9th February 2010

As our lives become busier day-to-day routines are becoming a thing of the past, but it could be a lack of these that are having a significant impact on our health, and most significantly that of our children. According to a new study conducted at Ohio State University, taking time for simple lifestyle factors such as family meals could decrease the risks of health complications like childhood obesity.

Lead researcher Sarah Anderson, who specialises in epidemiology at Ohio State University, explains the results as found from previous data collected in 2005 of 8,550 4-year-old children. The study looked into how important three lifestyle factors were in our health; family meals, television viewing and a good nights sleep. The results showed that 4-year-olds who were living in homes with all three of these factors enforced were at a 40% lower risk of developing obesity as opposed to those children who had none of these routines. To show the significance of the results the Body Mass Index’s of the children were compared: on average 14.3% of the children with the three lifestyle factors were obese with a worrying 24.5% being obese in the households without any of the routines. Whilst there is evidently still an issue of obesity within households with good lifestyle factors this could be down to other factors such as diet, exercise and so on. However, the results do show a clear indication as to the impact of several simple lifestyle factors on children’s overall wellbeing.

Sarah Anderson explains the results and keenly emphasises that no stress can be placed on one of the routines as opposed to the others as all three of them decrease the risk of obesity on their own. Thus, by inducing all of the lifestyle routines the chances of obesity are reduced even further. She adds that the study could help families to begin talking about diets, exercise and other potential lifestyle factors that could be contributing to obesity, e.g. behaviour. With childhood obesity becoming an increasing worry worldwide, it is clear that establishing routines could be the first step in combating the dangerous health problem.

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