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Could Dogs Help With Childhood Obesity?

Having a pet could be the key to fighting family flab and getting kids off the couch and into the park, according to a research project carried out by a pet food manufacturer.

With an international study claiming that British children are amongst the laziest in the world, the findings offer crucial information in Britain’s high profile fight against flab.

The research claims that over four in ten families have found that their kids play more actively now they have a pet. Over a quarter of those questioned reported that their children’s interest in sedentary activities such as TV watching and playing computer games had decreased since their pet’s arrival.

It is widely accepted that dog ownership leads to greater levels of exercise, however, the research shows that increased levels of active play and a decrease in sedentary activity are apparent amongst children who own dogs.

In addition, pet ownership could be the key to improving family stress levels. Over a quarter of pet owners questioned admitted that they have been less stressed since having a pet in their lives.

80% of parents believe that their pet has made their children very or extremely happy. Nearly half of all respondents think that their pet has made their child feel loved, more friendly towards others and relaxed. Whilst nearly three quarters of respondents felt that their children were more caring as a result of having a pet.

Mums as well as kids feel that they benefit from pet ownership with over a half admitting that their pet plays a crucial role in offering them emotional support and companionship.

Specialist in Human Animal Companion Bond research, Dr June McNicholas is not surprised by the results: “This survey shows that pets may help combat some of the “modern” problems of childhood, such as obesity and lack of exercise. Pets really do help motivate children to get away from the TV or the computer and take an active role in exercising and caring for their pet. The more involved children become in learning about their pet’s needs for a healthy diet and exercise, the more they can learn about keeping themselves healthy.”

Justine Hare, spokesperson for the pet food company that carried out the survey, comments; “It is clear from this research into pet-owning families that the benefits of having a pet permeate throughout the family and are tremendously positive, dynamic and more far-reaching that perhaps one would first think.”

It's not just humans who are struggling to beat the bulge. There is widely circulated data now showing that dog obesity is set to claim more canine lives than ever before.

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