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Does the Family Play a Key Role in Helping "Tweens" Maintain a Healthy Weight?
Date: 18 October 2012
DOES THE FAMILY PLAY A KEY ROLE IN HELPING 'TWEENS' MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT?
The EC funded I.Family research study working across 8 European countries and building on the IDEFICS cohort of more than 16,000 children is investigating this question
The EC funded IDEFICS study has shown that children under the age of 10 who regularly eat in a family unit, have fun within a structured home environment, and have a sense of well-being reduce their risk of becoming overweight or obese by 50%.
These significant findings from the EC funded IDEFICS Study concerning the importance of family life were reported at the European Childhood Obesity Group (ECOG) Congress in Palma de Majorca, October 2012.
But does this continue once children enter the 'tween' years - neither a child nor yet a teenager - a period when more external influences come into play? This is one of the key questions being followed up in the I.Family study.
Iris Pigeot, Deputy Co-ordinator of both IDEFICS and I.Family (Professor of Biometry and Epidemiological Methods at BIPS - Institute for Epidemiology and Prevention Research, Bremen, Germany) said at ECOG: "Children below the age of 10 remaining engaged with family life, particularly eating as a family unit, and with a sense of well-being reduce their risk of becoming overweight and obese by 50%. Their experience of a supportive and warm family environment is also key to maintaining a healthy weight."
"This striking and significant effect is confirmed in our IDEFICS data based on a cohort of 16,000 children across 8 European countries."
"What we will do now in the I. Family study tracking that IDEFICS cohort," continues Pigeot, "is to see how far the role of the supportive family continues to have this significant effect as children become 'tweens', whether this role is taken over by a child's peer group, or whether other factors such as built environment have an increased impact."
"The IDEFICS study demonstrated clearly that a chiId's emotional well-being, their self-esteem, relationships within the family unit and social contacts are key elements to maintaining a healthy weight. I.Family will attempt to determine how far the role of the family unit is one of the critical factors - or indeed the critical factor - in supporting European 'Tweens' to combat obesity."
News website: http://www.ifamilystudy.eu
Associated staff: Garrath Williams
Associated departments and research centres: Politics, Philosophy and Religion PPR
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