In the two decades since obesity was declared a nationwide epidemic, researchers have been struggling to determine why 36 percent of American adults are now obese compared to fewer than 15 percent in 1990. With the growing list of health problems linked to obesity — including a study published today that found severely obese individuals may lose up to 14 years of life — the race to find answers has never been more urgent.
Unfortunately, it sometimes seems like these researchers are running in place.
One finding published online Tuesday in the Journal of Preventive Medicine found that while kids born to obese parents have a higher risk of becoming obese themselves, those who have an obese older sibling have an even greater risk of obesity — especially if their sibling is the same gender as themselves.
No big surprise there since many of us follow in the footsteps of siblings that we admire. (I took up track in high school thanks to my older brother’s running habit.)
But the research, based on surveys of nearly 2,000 parents who had one or two children, also uncovered some odd discrepancies. For example, younger siblings were more likely to be obese if their older siblings were very athletic, exercising once a day or more.
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