Preschool-aged children who regularly ate evening meals
as a family, obtained adequate amounts of sleep and had limited
television-viewing time had about a 40% lower prevalence of obesity than other
children, according to a recent study.
In 2005, researchers from Ohio State University
conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 8,550 4-year-old children using data
from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, birth cohort (ECLS-B).
Eighteen percent of the children were obese, and 14.5%
of those children were exposed to all three routines, and 12.4% were exposed to
none of the routines. A little more than half of the overall cohort reported
having family dinners six or seven evenings per week, 57.5% reported 10.5 hours
of sleep per weeknight and only about 40.4% of the study cohort reported less
than two hours of television or movie viewing per weekday.
Among children exposed to all three routines, the
prevalence of obesity was 14.3% (95% CI, 11.3-17.2), compared with 24.5% (95%
CI, 20.1-28.9) who were exposed to none of the routines. The researchers also
noted that the number of routines was related to the prevalence of obesity,
with each additional routine indicating a 17% (95% CI, 9-24) reduction in odds
Although we cannot make causal inferences from our
data, the household routines we studied may be promising behavioral targets for
counseling, given their association with obesity and their potential benefits
beyond obesity prevention, Sarah E. Anderson, PhD, said in the
Anderson SE. Pediatrics. 2010;125:420-428.