According to as Finnish study featured on Science Daily adolescents who regularly eat five meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks) a day may be less likely to be obese.

Researchers followed more than 4,000 participants prior to birth until they reached the age of 16 to find out whether early-life factors could affect weight a decade or so down the line.

They found that eating five times a day at regular times dramatically reduces the weight and body mass index (BMI) of both girls and boys, whether they’re genetically predisposed to obesity or not. On the other hand, those who skip meals, especially breakfast, increased their chances of having a higher BMI and a wider waist circumference.

Another factor that could affect children's weight is prenatal parental weight. Although a mother's considerable weight gain (more than seven kilograms) during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy may increase obesity risk in her baby, researchers revealed that maternal obesity prior to giving birth increases the risk even more. Overall, kids whose parents have BMIs over 25—a score that indicates that a person is overweight—may have greater chances of being overweight as well.

Researchers recommend that children, especially adolescents, should be trained to eat the right kinds of food at the right time. Family meals may also help them regularize their eating habits.

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(Photo by Stacy Spensley via Flickr Creative Commons)

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