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Community obesity rates help shape whether families are overweight

(Reuters Health) – Parents and youngsters who dwell in communities with excessive obesity rates are extra more likely to grow to be overweight themselves than families residing in communities the place extra folks are a wholesome weight, a U.S. examine suggests.

Researchers targeted on 1,519 navy families who had been assigned to dwell at one in every of 38 Army installations throughout the U.S. The examine crew examined county-level knowledge on obesity rates at every location and in addition assessed physique mass index (BMI), a measure of weight relative to peak, for one father or mother and youngster in every household.

On common, 30 % of individuals in every county had been overweight, although this ranged from a low of 21 % in El Paso County, Colorado, to excessive of 38 % in Vernon County, Louisiana.

Each 1-percentage-point improve in county obesity rates was related to 5 % larger odds that oldsters can be overweight and a four % better probability that youngsters can be overweight or overweight, the examine discovered.

“Where you live can influence your family’s health in important ways,” stated examine co-author Ashlesha Datar of the Center for Economic and Social Research on the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

“It’s not just the built environment, i.e. availability of parks and healthy food outlets, that is important, but that social norms about obesity can also influence your family’s risk,” Datar stated by electronic mail. “Therefore, finding ways to be active and eat healthy and creating a culture of health in your community is important.”

Researchers studied navy families as a result of service members are routinely assigned to installations based mostly on the wants of the navy, making it much less seemingly that different components which may affect obesity additionally prompted families to decide on to dwell in a selected group, researchers be aware in JAMA Pediatrics.

Overall, 75 % of the mother and father within the examine had been overweight or overweight. The proportion of youngsters who had been overweight or overweight ranged from 25 % to 28 %, relying on whether peak and weight info got here from father or mother studies or was independently measured.

Kids had been extra more likely to be overweight or overweight, and oldsters had been extra more likely to be overweight, when families didn’t dwell on the navy bases and as a substitute discovered housing within the surrounding group, the examine additionally discovered.

The examine wasn’t a managed experiment designed to show whether or how group obesity rates is likely to be “socially contagious,” instantly impacting the danger of obesity for folks and youngsters.

One disadvantage of utilizing BMI to detect obesity in adults is that it doesn’t account for the way a lot lean muscle mass folks might have; subsequently, obesity rates won’t have been as excessive as they appeared, notably among the many adults.

Another limitation is that outcomes from navy families won’t replicate what would occur amongst different families, the authors be aware.

Even so, the quasi-experimental examine based mostly on navy families assigned to dwell in other places presents among the strongest proof thus far that communities and social interactions can shape how a lot folks weigh, stated Leonard Epstein of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences on the University at Buffalo in New York.

Even when plenty of associates, neighbors or co-workers are overweight, mother and father can nonetheless do loads to attenuate the danger of obesity inside their very own household, Epstein, co-author of an accompanying editorial, stated by electronic mail.

“Model healthy behaviors, which may involve changing parent behaviors,” Epstein suggested. “Arrange a home environment that fosters healthy eating and having an active lifestyle, develop a network of families who have healthy habits, and encourage play dates and friendships with children and families who can encourage your children to adopt a healthy lifestyle.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2DOsy8n and bit.ly/2nydncK JAMA Pediatrics, on-line January 22, 2018.

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