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More Kids, More Pounds for Parents

The more children a couple has, the greater the weight gain for Mom and Dad

TUESDAY, Feb. 24, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Children add joy to their parents' lives, but they can also add inches to their parents' waistlines.

The more children a person has, the greater the risk a man or woman will become obese, says a Duke University Medical Center study in the January/February issue of the Journal of Women's Health.

The researchers analyzed a large database of middle-aged Americans and concluded that women have an average 7 percent increased risk of obesity per child, while men have an average 4 percent increased risk of obesity per child.

The Duke study suggests this child-related weight gain may be linked to a busier lifestyle for parents that leaves them less time for exercise, while, at the same time, they eat more fast foods.

"As families grow, parents need to be educated about the importance of exercise and a healthy diet," study co-author Dr. Lori Bastian, an associate professor of medicine at Duke and research associate at the Durham VA Medical Center, says in a prepared statement.

"Obesity is a family problem because children follow the lead of their parents. A healthy lifestyle for one is a healthy lifestyle for all," Bastian says.

She says more research is needed to study what causes changes in parents' attitudes toward diet and exercise and to develop appropriate interventions.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about exercise and a healthy diet.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Feb. 23, 2004
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