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Niko Kaciroti
Niko Kaciroti

Science Has Good News for Older Siblings

Yahoo News 5/15/24

Being an older sibling when you’re a toddler is truly one of the most powerful, adventurous and most challenging pursuits any four year can be expected to take on. As any parent can attest, when there’s more than just one child in the Brady Bunch, things can get pretty hectic, largely because it’s basically a never-ending playdate.

Perhaps that would explain why new research from the University of Michigan and published in the April edition of the Pediatrics clinical research journal shows children who have a younger sibling by the time they are in the first grade are more likely to not be obese than children who don’t.

“Children who did not experience the birth of a sibling by the time they were in first grade had 2.94 greater odds of obesity at first grade compared with children who experienced the birth of a sibling when they were between 36 to 54 months old,” the study’s authors noted. “A birth of a sibling when the child is 24 to 54 months old is associated with a healthier BMIz trajectory.”

Why? Study authors Rana H. Mosli, Niko Kaciroti, Robert F. Corwyn, Robert H. Bradley and Julie C. Lumeng offer some theories as to why older siblings tend to have lower BMIs than their single-child counterparts, according to Cosmopolitan. For one, it could mean children with siblings tend to spend more time playing and running around. Parents might also place a much more stringent pressure on an only child while they eat, when compared to having multiple children at the dinner table.

As exciting as this might be for older siblings, take it with a grain of salt: other studies show the elder children are the ones more likely to be heavier as adults, at least for women. So there’s that to look forward to.