The influence of siblings on your weight

My son is relatively fit. He gets plenty of fresh air and exercise (way more than I do), and he likes to show me his "big muscles." As parents, we are trying to reinforce the idea of staying healthy. We are slowly winning him over - not to the point of eating vegetables - but our son definitely requests that we run around outside, go swimming, ride bikes and do other activities that are really active.

If he had a younger sibling, that child would probably be just as fit as he is. This report by the Harvard Gazette indicates that there are possible links between siblings and obesity. Evidently, if the eldest child is obese, than the younger siblings are more likely to be obese as well.

The study reports that in families with a single child, an obese parent doubled the risk of the child's obesity. In families with two children, having an obese sibling was associated with a risk of more than five times greater than if the siblings were a healthy weight.

It gets more interesting when you add gender. If the siblings were the same gender, the older sibling's obesity had an even stronger association.

What the report isn't able to answer is why. Is it because of a genetic factor that siblings share? Or is it because younger siblings tend to look up to their older brothers and sisters and spend more time with them than with their parents?

More research is needed and it is fascinating to read, but in the meantime, we all need to go outside and play more.

What's your favorite summer activity for staying healthy? Sorry, Mom. I didn't listen.

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