Is childhood obesity influenced by dog ownership? No cross-sectional or longitudinal evidence

Carri Westgarth, Jon Heron, Andy R Ness, Peter Bundred, Rosalind M Gaskell, Karen Coyne, Alexander J German, Sandra McCune, Susan Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To examine whether dog ownership is associated with lower risk of childhood obesity.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study of 7,759 children at age 7 years in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) in the UK. In addition, longitudinal analyses were conducted between age 7 and 9 years. BMI at age 7 and 9 years was calculated from clinic-measured weight and height and standardised in reference to 1990 UK data. Dog ownership data were collected by carer questionnaire at various time points.

RESULTS: After adjustment for confounding factors associated with dog ownership or obesity, there was no evidence of an association between obesity and dog ownership at 7 years OR = 1.18, 95% confidence interval = 0.88-1.59, p = 0.27), or dog ownership history. There was also no evidence for an effect of dog ownership on BMI change between 7 and 9 years, nor acquisition of a dog on the change in weight status of obese children between 7 and 9 years.

CONCLUSION: This study provides no evidence for a protective effect of dog ownership on the development of childhood obesity. Further investigation is required to determine the impact of dog ownership on physical activity in overweight and obese children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)833-44
Number of pages12
JournalObesity Facts
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Animals
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Great Britain
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Obesity
  • Odds Ratio
  • Parents
  • Pets
  • Questionnaires

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