Is Your House Obese-Proof?

Parents Can Control Obesity Risk Factors for Kids at Home, Researchers Say

By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 5, 2011 -- The chance of a child becoming obese depends greatly on parents' behavior and the home environment, experts know.

Now, Australian researchers have more information on how parents can help ''obese proof'' the home.

They evaluated what they call the ''obesogenic'' potential of households. They did this by examining the relationship between variable factors such as fast food meals and availability of soft drinks with children's eating habits, TV viewing, and physical activity.

The study is published in Pediatrics.

The Study

The researchers, from the University of Sydney, polled 1,685 children from grades 6, 8, and 10 and their parents. They generated two scales to look at the relationship between the children's eating, activity, and screen time. One scale was on the control of obesity, those factors that reduce risk. The other was a risk scale, factors that increase the risk of obesity.

Higher scores on the control scale were linked with the youths eating healthier foods and less junk food, getting more exercise, and watching TV less.

Higher scores on the risk scale were linked with the youths eating more junk food, watching TV more, and getting less exercise.

Among the practices or behaviors that reduced obesity risk for kids:

  • Parents who could control their child's intake of soft drinks
  • Parents who could inspire their child to be physically active
  • Having rules about television viewing
  • Frequent breakfast eating
  • Offering their child water to drink with meals

The practices or behaviors that increased the obesity risk in children included:

  • Soft drinks being available at home
  • Having a television in the child's room
  • Fast food for family meals
  • Eating dinner in the front of the television
  • Taking frequent short car trips of less than 1 mile

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SOURCE: Grunseit, A. Pediatrics, August 2011. ©2011 WebMD, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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