A new study released Tuesday found that children are more than twice as likely to be obese if they have an obese sibling, as opposed to if they have an obese parent. If the sibling is of the same gender, the risk is even stronger.
Researchers at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital looked at data from roughly 2,000 respondents to the Family Health Habits Survey, a nationwide survey of parents that looks at health between family members. The study, which will be published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that younger children turn to older siblings as examples, whether good or bad.
"Younger children look up to their big brother or sister for behavioral cues, often seeking their approval," Dr. Mark Pachucki, the author of the study, said in a statement. "Siblings may spend more time each other than with their parents, often eating and playing sports together."
In one-child families, having an obese parent more than doubled the risk the child would be obese, though high levels of physical activity lowered the child's risk. But for households with two children, the obese parent risk factor was true for the older child, but not the younger sibling.
Having an obese older sibling created a risk more than five times greater than a non-obese sibling, but an obese parent didn't affect the younger sibling's risk. For siblings of the same gender, the results were even more alarming: The older sibling created an obesity risk 8.6 times greater for girls and 11.4 times greater for boys.
"While this study doesn't allow us to say that one sibling's obesity directly influences the other's, the associations we found are pretty interesting," Pachucki said. "Now we need to try and replicate these analyses with other national datasets and think through how to use this information to improve family-based health intervention models." Meghan DeMaria
Cleveland police over the weekend arrested 71 people who participated in largely peaceful protests following the acquittal of a police officer in the 2012 killing of two unarmed black people.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said protesters became more "aggressive" throughout the day, adding that officers only intervened when they "became violent and…refused to disperse."
On Saturday a judge acquitted officer Michael Brelo over a 2012 incident in which police, after mistaking the sound of a car backfiring for gunshots, fired 137 rounds into a vehicle, killing both occupants. Brelo climbed onto the car's hood and fired 15 times through the windshield, though the judge ruled prosecutors did not prove those shots killed the couple. Jon Terbush
John Nash, the famed Nobel Prize-winning mathematician who inspired the film A Beautiful Mind, died Saturday in a taxi crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. The 86-year-old Nash and his wife, Alicia, were both killed when the driver of their taxi lost control and slammed into a guardrail. Police said they believe neither Nash nor his wife, who were ejected from the vehicle, were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident. Known for his work in game theory, Nash won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1994. Jon Terbush
At least one person died and dozens of states of emergency were declared following widespread flooding across Oklahoma and Texas over the weekend. A firefighter in Claremore, Oklahoma, died while trying to rescue a colleague who became trapped in a storm drain, though the trapped firefighter was able to make it out safely. Flooding in the region forced more than 1,000 evacuations, with officials warning that even more rain on Sunday could trigger potentially "historic" flooding. Jon Terbush
An international coalition of female activists led by feminist Gloria Steinem on Sunday crossed the highly militarized border between North and South Korea in an effort to spotlight the need for reconciliation between the two nations. The group, WomenCrossDMZ, consisted of about 30 participants including Steinem and two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire and Leymah Gbowee. "We feel very celebratory and positive that we have created a voyage across the DMZ in peace and reconciliation that was said to be impossible," Steinem said. Jon Terbush
The leader of Burundi's opposition party on Saturday was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in the capital of Bujumbura. Zedi Feruzi, the leader of the party Union for Peace and Development-Zigamibanga, and a bodyguard were shot dead by unidentified gunmen just one day after a grenade attack killed at least two civilians in the same city. Burundi has been rocked by unrest — including a failed coup — for weeks since President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would run for a third term. Jon Terbush
The Bank of England apparently needs a refresher on how to keep a classified project…classified.
An editor for The Guardian received an email on Friday, accidentally forwarded by the Bank's head of press, which details plans to research the financial repercussions of a British exit from the European Union. Nicknamed Project Bookend, the not-so-secret work was meant to be carried out by just a few senior officials, and examine how a "Brexit" would affect the country's export's and major cities' economies.
The email noted that any questions from the press should be answered by saying that "there is a lot going on in Europe in the next couple of months…that would be of concern to the Bank."
A note to the Bank's staff on the project: Take a good, long look at the "CC" field before you send any of Project Bookend's results. Also, consider a better name than Project Bookend. Sarah Eberspacher
Irish voters overwhelmingly said "yes" to same-sex marriage on Saturday, with 62.1 percent in support of amending the constitution to legalize gay marriage, The Associated Press reports.
The results make Ireland the first nation in the world to legalize gay marriage with a popular vote. John Lyons, one of just four openly gay members of the country's 166-member parliament, credited young voters with shifting Ireland's historically conservative constitution in a more liberal direction.
"This says something about modern Ireland," Lyons said. "Let's never underestimate the electorate or what they think." Sarah Eberspacher