Fighting obesity in kids with household routines

Young children who regularly eat dinner with their families, have less than two hours of screen time a day, and get enough sleep had a 37 percent lower obesity rate as those who did not follow any of the three routines, according to a study by researchers at Temple University in Philadelphia and Ohio State University in Columbus.

Temple’s Robert C. Whitaker and Sarah E. Anderson of Ohio State examined data on 8,550 four-year-old American children who participated in a 2005 assessment of their health status.  The researchers examined the connection between obesity and three routines: eating dinner as a family more than five nights a week; getting 10 ½ hours of sleep a night; and TV or movies viewing of two hours or less a day during the week. The researchers then adjusted the data to account for race, the mothers' level of education, household income and other factors.

The study, published in the March issue of the medical journal Pediatrics, concluded that
US preschool-aged children exposed to all three routines had a “lower prevalence of obesity than those exposed to none of these routines. These household routines may be promising targets for obesity-prevention efforts in early childhood.”