14 October 2008

Dogs Help Children Maintain A Healthy Weight

Overweight children could lose the pounds simply by owning a dog, Australian researchers have found.

A team of scientists believes the battle of the bulge can be won not only with fresh fruit or strenuous exercise but with simple, playful activity with a four-legged friend. Young children who play with a family dog have been found to be up to 50 per cent less likely to be overweight or obese than those who do not have one.

The researchers, from Melbourne's Deakin University, interviewed families of 1,100 children aged between 5 and 12 and discovered that those who owned a dog were in the best shape, even if they did not take it for regular walks. "Even playing incidentally with the dog helps children keep the weight off," said head researcher Associate Professor Jo Salmon. "We've always known that physical activity is the key to maintaining a healthy weight - but the results are likely to be the same if children own pets," she said.

"For parents who are trying to get their kids off the computer and switching off the TV and getting out and playing, having a pet might be a really good strategy for doing that."

[Source: Daily Mail UK]