Why kids get overweight

Children who watch more TV, eat fewer family meals and live in less safe neighbourhoods are more likely to be overweight, say researchers from the University of Missouri.

A new study published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association surveyed more than 8 000 children between kindergarten and third grade to identify factors associated with the children's weight.

The researchers classified the children into one of three groups: those who were not overweight in kindergarten and first grade, but were overweight by third grade; those who became overweight during kindergarten and remained overweight through third grade; and those who were never overweight.

TV tied to weight risk
The researchers found that the children who watched more television and ate fewer family meals were more likely to be overweight by first grade. Those who watched more television, ate fewer family meals and lived in neighbourhoods perceived by their parents as less safe for outdoor play were more likely to be overweight from kindergarten on.

"Intervening quickly on children's behalf is of the utmost importance," the researchers wrote, since being overweight as a young child increases the risk of being an overweight adult.

When addressing children's weight problems, health professionals should look into how much children watch TV, how often they eat family meals and how safe their parents perceive their neighbourhoods to be, the researchers concluded. – (HealthDayNews)

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January 2007

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