Pregnancy and Fertility BLOG

Planning the age gap between your children may help them avoid obesity, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan.

The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, investigated a potential association between sibling age gaps and their obesity risk. Roughly 700 kids in the U.S. were monitored for weight profiles and their age gap with the next younger sibling if any.

Results revealed that children who are 4 years old at the most when their next siblings get born to have a lower risk of obesity. The association was most prominent for kids between age 3 and 4, with only 5 percent of this population becoming obese when they reach first grade. In contrast, 13 percent of children whose next younger siblings were born after they reached first grade was diagnosed with obesity.

The research team was surprised by the findings. "In the study... we did not have data that would help us understand the mechanism," study author Dr. Julie Lumeng said in a news release. However, she points out one possible reason behind the link: more playing opportunities in the presence of similarly aged siblings. "Maybe you go to the park more... or maybe there is just more activity in the house," Dr. Lumeng added. The association, although seemingly conclusive, was not a causality relationship -- in short, the study doesn't say that proper spacing between pregnancies will definitely cause a decrease in obesity risk in older kids.

Childhood obesity continues to be a global threat. In the U.S. alone, roughly one in every six kids are diagnosed with obesity.