Household routines and obesity in US preschool-aged children

Pediatrics. 2010 Mar;125(3):420-8. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-0417. Epub 2010 Feb 8.


Objective: To determine the association between the prevalence of obesity in preschool-aged children and exposure to 3 household routines: regularly eating the evening meal as a family, obtaining adequate sleep, and limiting screen-viewing time.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of a nationally representative sample of approximately 8550 four-year-old US children who were assessed in 2005 in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort. Height and weight were measured. We assessed the association of childhood obesity (BMI > or = 95th percentile) with 3 household routines: regularly eating the evening meal as a family (>5 nights per week); obtaining adequate nighttime sleep on weekdays (> or =10.5 hours per night); and having limited screen-viewing (television, video, digital video disk) time on weekdays (< or =2 hours/day). Analyses were adjusted for the child's race/ethnicity, maternal obesity, maternal education, household income, and living in a single-parent household.

Results: Eighteen percent of children were obese, 14.5% were exposed to all 3 routines, and 12.4% were exposed to none of the routines. The prevalence of obesity was 14.3% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 11.3%-17.2%) among children exposed to all 3 routines and 24.5% (95% CI: 20.1%-28.9%) among those exposed to none of the routines. After adjusting for covariates, the odds of obesity associated with exposure to all 3, any 2, or only 1 routine (compared with none) were 0.63 (95% CI: 0.46-0.87), 0.64 (95% CI: 0.47-0.85), and 0.84 (95% CI: 0.63-1.12), respectively.

Conclusions: US preschool-aged children exposed to the 3 household routines of regularly eating the evening meal as a family, obtaining adequate nighttime sleep, and having limited screen-viewing time had an approximately 40% lower prevalence of obesity than those exposed to none of these routines. These household routines may be promising targets for obesity-prevention efforts in early childhood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Sleep*
  • Television*
  • United States / epidemiology