Telegraph (UK) 08 Feb 2010
Young children should live as they did a generation ago to help prevent obesity, a new study shows. Four-year-olds who ate dinner with their siblings and parents, got a lot of sleep and had their TV viewing rationed were found to have a reduced risk of becoming seriously overweight. Children who followed these routines – more in line with children 25 years ago – were almost 40 per cent less likely to be obese than those from less disciplined households.
Dr Sarah Anderson, from Ohio State University in the US, said: “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.” Each routine on its own was associated with lower obesity, but their effect was greater when combined. Scientists analysed data collected as part of a major health study on 8,550 US children born in 2001. The researchers focused on three particular family routines: eating an evening meal as a family more than five times a week, getting at least 10-and-a-half hours sleep a night, and watching less than two hours of TV per day on weekdays.