About 34% of adults in the United States meet the criteria for obesity. Contributing factors are well-documented and genetic, metabolic, environmental, and behavioral risk factors have been identified.
Family factors are also influential; children of obese parents are more likely to become obese adults themselves.
Research has discovered that birth order is also a contributing factor to obesity. Not only that, but birth order is also a determinant as to whether or not a person will seek bariatric surgery to remedy the problem.
Alfred Adler was the first person to explore a theory of birth order and the effect it has on personality. There are a number of factors to consider when considering the influence of birth order.
Birth order is a determinant as to how a person views the world, how a person expects to be treated, and how that person treats others.
Additional factors regarding birth order and the influence it has on personality are the spacing between children, social status, household changes across time, the number of children growing up in the household and overall family size.
The Influence of Supervision and Modeling
Socioeconomic status can decline as the size of the household increases. More family members leads to fewer adequate resources, and healthy foods may not be affordable. As the number of family members grows, parental supervision can decrease for each additional child. The monitoring of the children’s diet can become minimal.
In addition, older siblings are models for younger siblings, and the eating habits of the older child may be emulated by the youngsters. If the older sibling has a pseudo-parental role and is obese, the younger siblings may engage her poor eating habits and also become obese.
Research Results Regarding Birth Order and Obesity
Research done in Poland concluded that first-born girls in a family with three children were high risk candidates for becoming obese as were girls further down in the birth order.
A study conducted in Japan noted that boys from families that had four or more children, boys who had no brothers or sisters, and boys from families with only two children were at higher risk for obesity.
Yet another study showed that first-born children in African-American households were high risk for obesity.
Personality Factors, Birth Order, and Bariatric Surgery
Personality factors associated with birth order can be influential regarding a person’s decision to seek weight loss surgery. Studies show that the oldest sibling are often dominant, serious, and motivated for success. Youngest children are often carefree and pampered while middle children are often noncompetitive and introverted. The stronger personality is the one most likely to pursue surgery.
Family size is also a factor for those seeking bariatric surgery.
A Florida based study concluded that birth order and number of family members are influential when making a decision about gastric bypass surgery. Sixty three percent of the subjects in the Florida study were either the oldest or youngest child in a household with four siblings.
The study concluded that there was a significant correlation between birth order and the decision to seek bariatric surgery with the oldest or youngest child in a family of four children most likely to pursue the procedure. The results of the study were formulated using a chi-square analysis.
Bariatric Times http://bariatrictimes.com/2009/12/17/the-relationship-between-birth-order-obesity-and-bariatric-surgery-preliminary-data-analysis/ - accessed 5/16/12
Psych Central http://bariatrictimes.com/2009/12/17/the-relationship-between-birth-order-obesity-and-bariatric-surgery-preliminary-data-analysis/ - accessed 5/16/12
Please heart this article to support weight-loss surgery topics on HealthCentral. Thank you!
View my Grains Make Me Fat! recipe cards on Pinterest
You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.
Published On: May 22, 2012