STATES CHRONICLE – After having one child, some parents are having trouble deciding whether the child should have a sibling or not. According to a new study, it seems that children who have younger brothers or sisters might benefit from this, being less likely to become obese.
However, there is a catch. You should have a sibling by the time you have to go to school. Apparently, after you start first grade, the odds of you having health problems increase even if you get a sibling. The findings of the study suggest that children who start school while still being an only child are three times more likely to experience weight issues.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that being an only child will make you become obese. What the study does suggest is that having a second child in the family makes parents revisit some of their lifestyle choices, which leads to a healthy family overall.
Another thing that happens when a younger child comes into the family is that the elder is going to become more active, and he or she will be less likely to become sedentary. For example, they will play with their sibling instead of watching TV.
Moreover, mealtimes and eating habits might also change. Parents who have only one child tend to over-focus on that child’s diet, and they can either be too restrictive with the kid’s diet or try to pressure them into eating more than they actually need.
Once the second child comes into the family, the parents’ attention gets divided, and they also tend to get more relaxed about the children’s eating habits, without restricting them too much. This will allow the older child to regulate their own eating behavior which should lead to a healthy weight.
The study included 697 American children followed from birth and until the age of 6. The findings showed that, reaching this age, children without siblings were a lot more likely than the others to have a higher weight.
However, the study is quite limited as it did not include data on different life events such as job loss, divorce or move, which are believed to be factors worth taking into consideration when discussing the risk of obesity in a child.
Although there isn’t enough information to understand why children with siblings have lower chances of becoming obese, the study does show some interesting facts and further research should be done to find out more about this phenomenon.
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