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Only-children are significantly more likely to be overweight by the time they turn seven, a study has warned.
Researchers found obesity is seven times more common among youngsters who don't have any siblings.
Families - Children - Meals - Advance - Mouths
This is because families with multiple children eat out less and are forced to plan meals in advance to feed more mouths, scientists believe.
One in five British children are overweight when they start primary school, with that figure rising to one in three when they start secondary school.
US - Children - Teenagers - Obese
In the US, almost a third of children and teenagers are either overweight or obese, with one in five obese.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health estimates half of all children will be overweight or obese by 2020.
Obesity - Slew - Health - Conditions - Life
Obesity can trigger a slew of potentially-fatal health conditions later in life, including heart disease and strokes, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
In the new study, researchers from the University of Oklahoma looked at the eating habits of 68 youngsters over one week.
Only-children - Group - Siblings
Twenty-seven only-children were split into one group, with the remaining 41 with siblings in another.
Among only-children, 37 per cent were obese compared to five per cent in the group with siblings.
BMI - Difference - Groups - Only-children - BMI
There was also a stark BMI difference between the two groups. Only-children had a BMI percentile of roughly 72, compared to 53 in the sibling group.
The scientists, led by Chelsea Kracht, a professor in paediatric obesity and health behaviour, also measured the eating habits of the youngsters and their families.
Data - Food - Logs - Mothers - Course
Data was self-reported in daily food logs kept by their mothers over the course of the week.
Teachers filled in meal diaries for children while...
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