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Is dog ownership or dog walking associated with weight status in children and their parents?
journal contributionposted on 2008-04-01, 00:00 authored by Anna TimperioAnna Timperio, Jo SalmonJo Salmon, B Chu, Nick Andrianopoulos
Issue addressed: Several studies have shown that dog owners do more physical activity than non-owners; however, associations with weight status are unknown. This study examined associations between dog ownership, frequency of dog walking and weight status among children and their parents. Methods: Height and weight were measured for 281 children aged 5-6 years and 864 children aged 10-12 years. One parent reported their own and their partner's height and weight (n=1,108), dog ownership, usual frequency their child walks a dog, and usual frequency of walking the dog as a family. Logistic regression analyses were adjusted for sex (children only), physical activity, education, neighbourhood SES, parental weight status (children only) and clustering by school. Results: Dog ownership ranged from 45-57% in the two age groups. Nearly one in four 5-6 year-olds and 37% of 10-12 year- olds walked a dog at least once/week. Weekly dog walking as a family was reported by 24-28% of respondents. The odds of being overweight or obese were lower among younger children who owned a dog (OR=0.5, 95% CI 0.3-0.8) and higher among mothers whose family walked the dog together (OR--1.3, 95% CI 1.0-1.7). Conclusions: Dog ownership may offer some protection from overweight among young children. It is important that families with a dog are encouraged to walk or play with it regularly. Associations with weight status may depend on the type of dog owned, length of ownership and the nature of walks or interaction.