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J Med Invest. 2008 Feb;55(1-2):71-7.

Effects of lifestyle habits and eating meals together with the family on the prevalence of obesity among school children in Tokushima, Japan: a cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey.

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  • 1Department of Human Genetics and Public Health, The University of Tokushima Graduate School, Tokushima, Japan.


Obesity in children has become a major global public health concern. The prevention of obesity must start from early childhood in order to establish sound lifestyle habits and promote healthy adulthood. In this study, we evaluated factors associated with the prevention of obesity and the development of healthy lifestyle habits in children. A cross-sectional, questionnaire-based survey was performed in elementary and junior high school students in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan, during the summer of 2004. The questionnaire consisted of 30 items such as physique, sleep, eating habits, diet, exercise, free time, and attending after-school lessons. Our study revealed that eating meals as a family every day is associated with a lower rate of obesity as well as getting good lifestyle habits such as eating balanced meals and getting enough sleep. Of the 3,291 students who responded to the questionnaire, 2,688 (81.7%) reported that they eat meals with their family every day. The percentage of students who eat meals with their family every day decreased with increasing school grade, with the lowest percent in the junior high school students. However, the results regarding female junior high school students revealed a marked association between eating meals with the family every day and good lifestyle habits. We recommend that parents and school teaching staff encourage the establishment of sound, healthy lifestyle habits in children from early childhood as an effective measure for the prevention of obesity.

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