Social norms for obesity learned in childhood

Newcastle University research studying siblings has revealed that childhood experience and genes may set your weight rather than social networks later in life. 

An individual’s social norms in terms of what they consider acceptable weight are formed during childhood, and are not highly influenced by our later social networks according to the study published online this week in .

Dr Heather Brown and colleagues investigated the effects of time-constant factors such as genetics and upbringing, and changeable factors, like friends and opportunities for exercise, on the development of social norms regarding weight in children. 

They used data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to analyze the correlation in sibling body mass index (BMI) data from 236 adolescent siblings living together, and 838 adult siblings living apart.

Time-constant factors significantly influenced both groups, but only the adolescent group was influenced by changeable factors. A larger study may provide findings that are more robust.

The authors conclude that previous studies may have overestimated the effect of social networks on BMI and Dr Brown and colleagues suggest that if obesity prevention strategies are to be effective, they should be implemented in early childhood and at a household level.

More information: Exploring the Factors Contributing to Sibling Correlations in BMI: A Study Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, DOI:10.1038/OBY.2011.351

Provided by Newcastle University

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

CT scanning shows how ants build without an architect

Sep 26, 2011

Ant nests are some of the most remarkable structures in nature. Their relative size is rivalled only by our own skyscrapers but there is no architect or blueprint.  Instead they are built collectively, ...

Recommended for you

New toilets for India's poor, crime-hit village

21 hours ago

More than 100 new toilets were unveiled Sunday in a poverty-stricken and scandal-hit village in northern India, where fearful and vulnerable women have long been forced to defecate in the open.

Can YouTube save your life?

Aug 29, 2014

Only a handful of CPR and basic life support (BLS) videos available on YouTube provide instructions which are consistent with recent health guidelines, according to a new study published in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the jo ...

Doctors frequently experience ethical dilemmas

Aug 29, 2014

(HealthDay)—For physicians trying to balance various financial and time pressures, ethical dilemmas are common, according to an article published Aug. 7 in Medical Economics.

AMGA: Physician turnover still high in 2013

Aug 29, 2014

(HealthDay)—For the second year running, physician turnover remains at the highest rate since 2005, according to a report published by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA).

Obese or overweight teens more likely to become smokers

Aug 29, 2014

A study examining whether overweight or obese teens are at higher risk for substance abuse finds both good and bad news: weight status has no correlation with alcohol or marijuana use but is linked to regular ...

User comments