Routines that reduce obesity risks in kids

February 16, 2010 9:39:04 AM PST
Doctors have been watching the average weight of children go up dramatically over the years. Now, for the first time, a new study outlines three household routines that can reduce the risk of obesity in kids.

Experts now say one out of every eight kids under the age of 5 is overweight or obese.

Parents often feel frustrated as they battle their children over food, but now this study gives parents some concrete advice on some home habits than can help keep their children from eating unhealthily.

Having grown up in an Italian family, Michelle Ziegler spent a lot of time around the dinner table. Now that she's a mother of two, she has made it a priority to carry on the tradition, if for no other reason to giver her family a chance to catch up on everyone's day.

"We do get together. We talk about what we did at work. You know, just catch up on the whole day we were not together," she said.

But without realizing it, the simple routine of sitting down to dinner every night is doing more than keeping her family connected. It's actually making her kids healthier.

A new study in the Journal Pediatrics shows that sitting down to dinner on a regular basis seems to cut the risk of obesity in preschoolers.

If you limit the amount of time they watch t-v to 2 hours a day and make sure they get enough sleep (10 and a half hours in this study), the risk goes down even further.

"We found that children who had these three household routines were at 40% lower risk of obesity compared to children who had none of these routines," said Sarah Anderson, PhD.

Anderson, a researcher at Ohio State University's College of Public Health which led the study, says implementing at least one of these routines can cut the risk of obesity in kids, but the more you can do the better.

They're all likely to help children develop in several important areas.

"Including helping with language acquisition, cognitive development and social and emotional development," Anderson said.

The best part is in this study of more than eight-thousand preschoolers, the results were the same, regardless of the make up of the family or where they live.

Simply put, the more kids were exposed to these three routines, the less likely they were to have issues with their weight.

More information log onto: