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File Under Obvious: People Who Spend More Time Walking Their Dogs are Less Likely to be Overweight. So are the Dogs.

Tomorrow: vet Q & A. But first a link to a study published recently in the Journal of Public Health Nutrition. The study evaluated the...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Jan 18th 2010


Tomorrow: vet Q & A.

But first a link to a study published recently in the Journal of Public Health Nutrition.

The study evaluated the weight status of owners and pets. It turned out that overweight dogs are more likely to be owned by overweight people. A similar correlation was not found for cats.

Further investigation into the data (note: sample sizes were small) revealed that the correlation between obesity in dogs and owners disappeared when the amount of time spent walking the dog each day was factored in. Or at least that’s what I think they’re trying to say:

Results We found a significant relationship between the degree of overweight of dogs and the BMI of their owners (r = 031). Correction for length of ownership, gender and age of the animal, and gender, age, education level and activity score of the owner did not materially affect this relationship. However, after correction for the amount of time the dog was being walked each day, this relationship disappeared. No significant relationship was found between the degree of overweight of cats and the BMI of their owners.

I spent years studying science talk and I still have trouble teasing out the meaning of some papers.

Why are overweight dogs, but not cats, linked to overweight owners? The thinking is that cat’s lifestyles are more independent from their owners’. A cat’s exercise (or lack thereof) is largely self-motivated. Dogs only walk if their owners get them out of the house.

So, for your sake and your dog’s, get out there and take him for a walk!