Nutritional profiles and habits are not the only factors at play when it comes to childhood obesity. Children who live in houses with no gardens or outdoor living areas are 40 percent more likely to be obese by age seven.
An English study done by the VU University Medical Centre in Holland looked into the backgrounds of 6,467 children born between 2000 and 2001 in the United Kingdom (UK). They took part in the Millennium Cohort Study with surveys starting from nine months of age to seven years.
The research led by Annemarie Schalkwijk aims to gauge the effects of several factors such as access to gardens, abundance of green living space and neighborhood conditions in early obesity. The study also considered external factors such as education, finances, food consumption and fitness of the parents.
Children aged three to five years old living in houses with no gardens area are more likely to suffer from obesity in the years that follow compared to children who enjoy the green living space. This risk also applies to children living in poor neighborhoods. This risk overrides the parents' educational attainment and financial ability if the living condition is not ideal for outdoor activities by 38 percent. Obesity in early age continues in adulthood, leaving obese children with higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later if not fixed early in life.
"Many children and young people in the UK are not achieving the recommended target of 60 minutes activity each day and nearly a third of all children in the UK are obese or overweight," says Maureen Talbot, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation. Talbot stresses the importance of daily physical activities in early life to strengthen cardiovascular health. Access to green living space can help protect a child from heart and lung diseases.
The researchers discussed the study during the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Stockholm. These findings are instrumental in looking for more ways to prevent risk of getting type 2 diabetes at the earliest stage possible. The study's results can also help the government roll out campaigns to encourage parents with young kids to become more active for present and future health.