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Only children more likely to be overweight

Aug. 24, 2012 at 7:31 PM ET

By MyHealthNewsDaily Staff

Kids with no siblings may be at increased risk for childhood obesity, a new study from Europe suggests.

In the study, children between ages 2 to 9 with no siblings were about 50 percent more likely to be overweight than children who had siblings.

The results held even after the researchers took into account factors that could influence the children's weight, including gender, birth weight, parental weights, and the amounts of time the kids spent playing and watching TV.

"Being an only child appears to be a risk factor in and of itself,” for being overweight, said study researcher Monica Hunsberger, of University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

The reason for link may be differences between households with one child, and households with several children that were not measurable in the study, Hunsberger said. The researchers plan to conduct future studies to understand the cause behind the link, Hunsberger said.

The study involved12,700 children from eight European countries, including Sweden, Italy, Germany and Spain.

The children's body mass indexes (BMI) were measured, and parents were asked questions about the children’s eating habits, television viewing habits and amount of outdoor play time.

The study was published online July 2 in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes.

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