Children aged between three and five years who have no access to a garden are at a greater risk of becoming overweight or obese by the time they turn seven, a new study has found.
The research, which involved around 6,500 children from across England, found that even when taking into account factors like food consumption, physical activity, education and poverty, not having a garden was a major risk factor in putting on weight.
Experts behind the research found that no garden access for lower educated households (children aged between 3 and 5 years) increased the odds of being overweight/obese at 7 years by 38 per cent, after adjusting for parental influences and socio-economic status.
For children of higher educated households living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, there was also a 38 per cent increased risk of being overweight or obese at the age of seven.
“We showed that limits on access to outdoor space is associated with future childhood overweight/obesity,” said lead author of the study Annemarie Schalkwijk, of VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam.
“More research is needed to see how we can deploy these findings in the prevention of type 2 diabetes,” he added.
The study aimed to assess the association of environmental characteristics among kids between three and five years on being overweight or obese at age 7.
Surveys were carried out at age 9 months, 3 years, 5 years and 7 years.
Around one in five children in the UK are officially classed as obese by the time they leave primary school, going on to be obese adults with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.