A relationship with a sibling is hard to understand for someone without the actual experience. And it gets even stranger for the older sibling. This is because it’s a complex relationship, based around a series of events and feelings that are extremely dynamic and vary wildly with time.
It’s a complex mix of feeling protective, annoyed, occasionally jealous, and even proud at points. It varies from family to family, but the complexity is always there. And according to a team of researchers from Michigan, children’s obesity risk is decreased by younger siblings. So let’s see how that’s possible.
According to the study, children who didn’t have a younger sibling born by the time they started first grade had more or less triple the odds of developing obesity compared to children who had a new member join their family by the time they were four or six.
The study was very limited and not that well performed, either, but it did show some interesting results – albeit without any explanations regarding why the premise might hold up. It doesn’t prove that being an only child increases the chances for obesity, and neither does it say how a younger child might help the younger keep a healthier weight.
Of course, the researchers had a few theories regarding why that might be the case, but that’s all they are – theories. Some of these include parents making lifestyle changes before the second child is born, the first sibling getting more exercise by playing with the younger one or switched up meal times.
For the study performed by teams from the University of Michigan and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor and led by pediatrics and public health researchers Dr. Julie Lumeng, the scientists looked at the data of a total of 697 American children, from birth until they turned six years old.
According to the study, by the time they turned six, those children without a younger sibling had almost triple the chance of being overweight or obese according to the body mass index (BMI). And this is pretty much the only thing the study determined, leaving the impression that it was just performed for the sake of performing a study.
There are multiple limitations to the research, each more incriminating for the study than the other. First of all, being a meta-analysis, no environmental information that could have easily influenced their weight was known about the subjects, severely limiting the study’s accuracy.
Second of all, the body mass index was repeatedly proven to be inaccurate, even though that doesn’t really matter in regards to why the children turned out overweight. According to Dr. Sandra Hassink, medical director with the American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for a Healthy Childhood Weight,
This is a very interesting study that makes an observation but there is not enough information yet to understand why children without siblings would be heavier.
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