ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin D Plus Calcium Guards Against Fractures
Fruits and Veggies May Strengthen Bones
Scientists ID New Genes Tied to Crohn's Disease
CANCER
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Meditation May Reduce Stress in Breast Cancer Patients
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
CAREGIVING
Moms Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Neglect Child
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
DIABETES
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Mediterranean Diet Enriched With Nuts Cuts Heart Risks
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Six Healthy-Sounding Foods That Really Aren't
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Vest Monitors 'Individual' Air Pollution
Climate Change Linked to Longer Pollen Seasons
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
EYE CARE, VISION
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
FITNESS
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
Higher Fitness Levels Tied to Lower Heart, Death Risks
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
SENIORS
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
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3 Home Habits Help Youngsters Stay Slim

Something as simple as sitting down to dinner together as a family can go a long way in helping a child fend off obesity.

That's just one of the findings from new research that suggests that family behaviors can have a significant impact on the weight of preschool children. Other behaviors that may help youngsters stay slim include getting adequate sleep and limiting time in front of the TV.

"Four-year-olds who regularly ate dinner with the family, got enough sleep and watched less than two hours of TV a day were 40 percent less likely to be obese," said the study's lead author, Sarah Anderson, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the College of Public Health at Ohio State University in Columbus.

"One of the things that's potentially useful about recommending these routines, if they're suggested as part of obesity-prevention counseling, is that they may have other benefits, too. And, for pediatricians and other clinicians, we don't have easy, effective treatments for obesity in children, so it's very important to try to prevent obesity," said Anderson.

Results of the study are scheduled to be published in the March issue of Pediatrics.

The study included a nationally representative sample of 8,550 four-year-old children. One parent of each child answered researchers' questions about the family's routines and behaviors.

From this group of children, 18 percent were considered obese, which means their body mass index (a measurement that includes weight and height) is greater than the 95th percentile when compared to others of their age and gender.

Just 14.5 percent of the children were exposed to all three of the study behaviors on a regular basis: Eating the evening meal as a family five or more nights a week, getting more than 10.5 hours of sleep per night, and watching less than two hours of TV, video or DVDs a day.

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 hard to institute some of these behaviors. But she suggested that parents "make these behaviors a priority. Sit down and figure out how you can make it happen. Maybe your child doesn't need to be involved in four or five different activities."

She said if it's tough to eat together five times a week, shoot for at least three nights a week. And, she also recommended removing TVs from children's bedrooms, which can help with limiting screen time and with getting enough sleep.

A second study in the March issue of Pediatrics found that preschoolers aren't the only age group that can be influenced with positive behaviors. This study, which included 81 obese teenaged girls, found that when girls read a book that featured an overweight girl who learns about nutrition, physical activity and improving her self-esteem, readers reduced their body mass index percentile more than girls who didn't read the book.

SOURCES: Sarah E. Anderson, Ph.D., assistant professor, epidemiology, College of Public Health, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; Jennifer Helmcamp, M.D., staff pediatrician, and director, Jump Start Pediatric Weight Management Clinic, Scott & White Healthcare, and assistant professor, pediatrics, Texas A&M Medical School, Round Rock, Texas; March 2010 Pediatrics