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

Law requiring release of health information upheld

48 minutes ago

(HealthDay)—A state law that requires plaintiffs to release relevant protected health information before proceeding with allegations of medical liability has been upheld by a federal appeals court, according ...

Research highlights extent and effects of school violence

1 hour ago

Six percent of U.S. children and youth missed a day of school over the course of a year because they were the victim of violence or abuse at school. This was a major finding of a study on school safety by University of New ...

Planning for the move from children's to adult palliative care

4 hours ago

The differences between children's and adult palliative care services are too wide for young people with life-limiting conditions to negotiate, according to research by Bangor University. Commenting on the findings, the researchers ...

User comments