There certainly are some amazing benefits to being an only child, like not having to share your room, not having to share your friends and not having to share your food.

However, a new study suggests that those kids who grow up without a brother or sister might find more benefit in some good old-fashioned diet and exercise, as researchers have found that kids without siblings are 50 percent more likely to be overweight than children with siblings.

The study of more than 12,700 participants from eight European countries looked at each participants body mass index (BMI), as well as asked parents of the participants to fill out a lifestyle questionnaire about their child’s eating habits, time spent watching television, playing, among other things.

What they found was that “only children” were more likely to have a television in their rooms and less likely to go outside and play.

“Our study shows that only children play outside less often, live in households with lower levels of education more often, and are more likely to have televisions in their bedrooms. But even when we take these factors into account, the correlation between siblings and obesity is strong. Indeed, being an only child appears to be a risk factor in and of itself,” said Monica Hunsberger, a researcher and one of the authors of the study.

While there is no question that certain genetic and environmental factors can play a huge role in obesity, researchers say they are now looking at how family structure influences the risk of obesity and searching for any casual links between obesity and family structure in the families who took part in the original study.

Follow-up research is expected to be available next year.

[Medical Daily]