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March 14, 2016

Study finds little siblings can help big siblings avoid obesity

Children with younger brothers or sisters are almost three times less likely to be obese by first grade

Little siblings can be a pain, but a new study in the journal Pediatrics shows they can also be a blessing: They can help their big siblings maintain a healthy weight.

Researchers recruited almost 700 kids into the study and measured their body mass index every year until they were 6 years old, as Reuters reported. The kids who welcomed a baby brother or sister into the family when they were 2, 3 or 4 years old were almost three times less likely to be obese in first grade than children who had no younger siblings.

“It is possible that when there is a younger sibling in the family, a child might become more active – for example running around more with their toddler sibling,” study author Dr. Julie Lumeng of the University of Michigan told Reuters.

Yes, it turns out that constantly running after your little brother or sister and making sure that they don't get up to shenanigans — or, perhaps, joining in those hyperactive shenanigans yourself — can help you stay fit for first grade.

Another explanation for why big siblings stay thin is that parents might be more likely to overfeed an only child. Alternatively, parents might try so hard to control the child's diet that they do more harm than good and end up fomenting unhealthy eating habits.

So if you've got a baby brother or a little sister, you can thank them for keeping you on your toes and your parents off your back.

Read the full story here.

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