Single children have more than double the
risk of being overweight or obese as compared to those with siblings, says a
In a pan-European
analysis, covering Italy, Estonia, Cyprus, Belgium, Sweden,
Hungary, Germany and Spain, researchers
studied the health effects of diet, lifestyle and obesity in
children aged 2 to 9 years.
The study, involving 12,720 children and
conducted under the framework of the
European research project, "Identification and prevention of Dietary and
lifestyle-induced health Effects In Children
and infants (IDEFICS)", found that
children without siblings have 50 percent greater risk of obesity,
compared to their counterparts with siblings.
This fact was influenced by other factors,
such as birth weight, gender and parental weight.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
of the children was calculated and categorized according to the criteria of
International Obesity Task Force. Demographic data and socioeconomic variables
were assessed based on the parental
questionnaire that included questions pertaining to children's dietary habits,
pattern of television viewing and the time spent in
playing outdoor games.
According to Monica Hunsberger, a researcher
at the Sahlgrenska Academy in the University of Gothenburg, and the lead
researcher in the study, single children tend to play outdoors
less often, live in medium level educated households, and are more likely to
watch television programs in their bedrooms. The study also found that the
longer the child remained a singleton, the stronger was the association with
It appears from the study that there is a
significant correlation between siblings and obesity and that being a child
without siblings appears to be a risk factor by
To understand the influence of individual
family environment, and family structure, on children's obesity and state of
health, a follow up study is to be undertaken.
The present study was published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes.