A new pediatric-focused study suggests that children who have a younger brother or sister have fewer chances of suffering from obesity in later life. The study decreed that younger siblings can diminish obesity risk in older siblings although the scientists were unable to pinpoint the exact reason this happens.
The new study performed by the University of Michigan shows that there is indeed a connection between younger sibling and lower BMI levels in older siblings. Focused on children 2 to 4, the study has proved that children entering the first grade were healthier if they had a younger brother or sister than only children.
Julie Lumeng, a Medical Doctor and the lead author of the study declared that there is proof that younger siblings can make their older siblings pay more attention to their dietary requirements.
The doctor also pointed out that same-aged children who had no younger brothers or sister were three times more likely to suffer obesity upon entering the first grade compared to the children who had a younger brother or sister.
To ascertain the link between siblings and BMI, the team of scientists reviewed the health data of approximately 700 children from the United States. Initially, the researcher project was focused on big sister-younger brother relationship, but after extrapolating the results, the scientists have determined that it’s a two-way road.
This latter fact means that the effect of younger siblings extends to older brother as well. Although the scientists were unable to determine the exact reasons why children with younger brothers or sisters have a lower BMI than children of the same age, they’ve made a couple of speculation.
Jerica Berge, a researcher at the University of Michigan, who was not involved in the research project, said that one theory that might account for the lower BMI in children caring for their younger sibling is that they tend to take an active part in raising his sibling.
Moreover, parents who have two children are more likely to focus on the needs of the first one, while taking care of the other. Children with a younger sibling might perhaps take some strain off their parents, like performing various chores around the house.
Another theory is that older sibling tends to engage in more extensive physical activities when they are around their younger siblings. And last, but not least, the researchers tend to believe that after having a second child, the parent will most likely relax when it comes to feeding their older child.
Whatever the reasons may be, researchers tend to think that more observations are needed because this seems to be a good start to addressing one of the nation’s primary health concern: child obesity.