A new study published by the Journal of Nutrition and Education Behavior on Wednesday, November 6th showed that singletons or only children may be more at risk to become obese than children with siblings. The study showed that this is largely in part because they tend to have less healthy eating and drinking habits which makes them more prone to gain weight.
This study looked at 68 kids in total, which consisted of 27 only children and 41 children that came from families with multiple children. Anthropometric measurements, which assess things like BMI and overall fitness were taken and the mothers of the children answered questionnaires about what their children's diets looked like. The study concluded that only children had worse eating habits.
It has been noted that the sample size used in this study is considered too small to be conclusive but experts do believe it's worth further investigation. Dr. Natalie Muth, who chairs the American Pediatric Association had this to say: "Several studies in addition to this one have shown that only children are more likely to have overweight or obese." She acknowledges that there are also other factors that need to be examined to find causation for this correlation.
If you have an only child, this doesn't mean that you have to rush out and make a little brother or sister for them! Knowing that this is a possibility can help you to proactively prevent this outcome. The first thing that you can do if you have an only child is to examine their eating patterns as well as their own.
If you come to the conclusion that your child doesn't have the healthiest eating patterns, the next thing you can do is examine why? Are you too busy to plan a balanced meal for them? Do they model your unhealthy eating habits? Have you completely caved to the whims of a picky eater and let them eat whatever you want? Does your child eat okay, but the whole family is a family of homebodies and just doesn't get the chance to expend all of the energy they take in?
Once you're able to zone in on why your child had unhealthy eating habits, you can make a plan to get them on the right track to living a healthy lifestyle.