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Family meals, adequate sleep and limited TV may lower childhood obesity
Date:2/8/2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio 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.

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 individual 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.

The researchers suggested that adopting these three household routines could be an attractive obesity-prevention strategy for all families with young children, especially because these routines may benefit children's overall development. However, they also cautioned that this study alone does not confirm whether the routines themselves, or some other factor, protect children from obesity.

The study appears online and is scheduled for publication in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Each routine on its own was associated with lower obesity, and more routines translated to lower obesity prevalence among 4-year-olds, according to the analysis. The link between the routines and lower obesity prevalence was also seen in children with and without other risk factors for 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 Ohi
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Contact: Sarah Anderson
sanderson@cph.osu.edu
614-293-4702
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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