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How a Child's Daily Routine Affects Their Weight

By: Joanne Walker BA (hons) - Updated: 8 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
Obesity Overweight Routine Sleep

Many people find it easy to brand the parents of overweight children as failures and say that they are responsible for the fact they are overweight. And, indeed, it does follow that if parents instil a healthy lifestyle in their children, then they will be more likely to stick to that path and grow up as a healthy human being. But now researchers at Ohio State University have actually studied the effects of the family daily routine on a child’s weight and why certain routines could result in children gaining weight as a matter of course.

What Routines Count?

The routines which the researchers looked at included eating well, watching less television, exercising more and going to bed at a sensible time. These are all things which may seem obvious to most people reading, but in today’s busy and modern world it can be easy to lose sight of what really matters in terms of leading a healthy life. The research which was carried out by the academics looked at whether these routines, when added up altogether, could have an effect on a child’s weight – rather than just looking at them individually.

What Did They Find?

The woman who led the study was named Sarah Anderson and she and her team looked at the behaviour of families with a four-year-old and the effect these routines. The data that they looked at showed, unsurprisingly, that children whose families did two of the routines, were slimmer than those who did just one. Looking at eating dinner together as a family, regulating the amount of TV watched and getting enough sleep, the researchers found that children who do all three had a reduced risk of obesity, presumably as they developed good habits early. Sarah Anderson said that the risk of obesity in the children was up to 40 per cent lower if the children did all three behaviours compared to those who did not at all.

Where were the best results?

The best results, in terms of likelihood of being obese, came from those children who ate dinner with their families six or seven nights a week, watched no more than two hours of TV a day and got at least ten and a half hours sleep each night. Even taking into account other factors which can affect a child’s likelihood of being obese, such as the mother being obese or being from a deprived background, the children doing all three routines were still less likely to be obese. Therefore, adopting the methods can be a very good way of ensuring children from deprived backgrounds are less likely to be overweight – something which the UK government is looking into with its theories on ‘nudging’ people into behaviour change.

The simplicity of the findings is the beauty of the findings. Every family can do these routines and build stability into their child’s life from the outset. It means that a chills will be less likely to be overweight while also having a stable home life, security and a much stronger family unit as a result of quality time spent together each day. The sleep factor will affect the child’s performance in school – making a strong daily routine a good idea on many, many levels.

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