Magazine article USA TODAY

Family Meals Could Be the Cure

Magazine article USA TODAY

Family Meals Could Be the Cure

Article excerpt

Preschool-aged children are likely to have a lower risk for obesity if they engage regularly in one or more of three specific household routines: eating dinner as a family, getting adequate sleep, and limiting their weekday television viewing. A study by Ohio State University, Columbus, shows that four-year-olds living in homes with all three have an almost 40% lower occurrence than do kids living in homes that practice none of these routines.

Other studies have linked obesity to the individual behaviors of excessive TV viewing, a lack of sleep, and, to a lesser extent, a low frequency of family meals, but this is the first one to assess the combination of all three with obesity prevalence in a national sample of preschoolers.

The researchers contend that adopting these household structures could be an attractive obesity-prevention strategy for all families with young children, especially because these routines may benefit their overall development. However, they also caution that this study alone does not confirm whether the routines themselves, or some other factor, protect children from obesity. …

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