The researchers found that in children routinely exposed to all three of these behaviors, the obesity rate was 14.3 percent. In children who weren't exposed to any of these behaviors, the obesity rate was 24.5 percent.
Anderson said that each behavior was associated with a 17 percent reduction in the risk in obesity.
These findings held true even when the researchers controlled for factors that may affect a child's risk of obesity, including maternal obesity, race, gender, socioeconomic status and living in a single-parent household.
Anderson pointed out that this study could only find an association between these behaviors and a child's risk of obesity. The study was not designed to assess cause and effect.
"We don't know if it's the routines per se, or if it's the parenting associated with these routines or something else correlated with these routines, but we do know these routines are associated with a lower incidence of obesity," said Anderson.
"These are relatively simple things that you can do in your home that change the health environment of your child. Not only will it help your child with obesity risk, but plenty of other studies have shown that it will also help with behavior and cognitive development. These are great changes to make if they're not already in place," said Dr. Jennifer Helmcamp, a pediatrician and director of the Jump Start Pediatric Weight Management Clinic at Scott & White Healthcare in Round Rock, Texas.
If it seems impossible to institute all three of these behaviors, Anderson said that any one of them alone can have an effect. "Each of these routines was related to a lower risk of obesity, so you can choose to try the one that you think you'll have the most success with. If you're already doing one, consider doing another," she suggested.
Helmcamp said it can be
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