If you have a younger brother or sister you may want to go and take them out for dinner now, because according to new research they may have also lowered your risk of obesity.
Scientists at the University of Michigan's newest study has revealed that kids who have younger siblings are less likely to be obese.
Looking at the BMIs of 697 American kids aged between 1 and 6 over a multi-year period, scientists found that 12.8 percent of six-year-old only children were obese. But in kids who had younger siblings the obesity rate was between 4.8 to 8.4 percent.
The timing of the birth of the younger child also influenced the BMIs in the kids. 7.8 percent of children who became the older child before turning 2 were obese, while the obesity level went up to 8.4 percent in kids who between 2 and 3 years old when a new kid came along. Children who were between 3 and 6 years old when they were joined by a sibling were found to have the lowest obesity rate of all, at just 4.8 percent.
Scientists have numerous explanations for these findings.
It is believed that older kids with younger siblings spend more time playing and are therefore busy burning calories. Moms and dads may also change mealtimes for the better when they have more than one child eating at the table. Previous studies have shown that parents put more pressure on only children to watch what they eat, which leads to rebellious kids putting more in their mouths.
Other evidence suggested that after the age of 18, older sisters are more likely to weigh more than younger ones. Scientists believe this may be because firstborns get fewer nutrients in the womb so tend to store more fat as they age.
The main things to take away from the study is that it is the extra playtime, changed mealtimes, and less food shaming coul be the explanation for lower obesity rates, all of which could also work on only kids too.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.