Kids without siblings engage in more unhealthy eating behaviors
Children aged younger than 8 years who did not have siblings were more likely to consume unhealthy foods and drinks than children of the same age group who had brothers and sisters, according to an analysis published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
“There is limited evidence examining family eating behaviors and child eating patterns between singletons and nonsingletons before 8 years of age when weight differences first emerge,” Chelsea Kracht, PhD, of the College of Allied Health at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and colleagues wrote.
For the study, researchers recruited 68 mother-child dyads, including 27 singletons and 41 nonsingletons. Mothers completed questionnaires and child dietary logs, which were used to evaluate family eating behaviors.
Kracht and colleagues found that singletons exhibited less healthy eating (P = .003) and lower Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores (P = .001) than nonsingletons. Also, singleton children averaged lower scores on three components of the HEI — “Seafood and Plant Protein,” “Refined Grains” and “Empty Calories” (P < .021 for all).
The researchers noted that a greater number of singleton mothers had overweight or obesity compared with nonsingleton mothers, and maternal BMI had contributed to child weight beyond singleton status in their analysis. However, a systematic review published in 2018 showed that the evidence supporting the effect of parental weight on family nutrition is still mixed.
In addition, researchers found evidence that indicated the weight differences between kids with siblings and kids without siblings came from factors such as how frequently the family ate in front of the television and drank sugary beverages.
“Nutrition professionals must consider the influence of family and siblings to provide appropriate and tailored nutrition education for families of young children,” Kracht said in a press release. “Efforts to help all children and families establish healthy eating habits and practices must be encouraged." – by Janel Miller
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.