As I was reviewing some research articles for a blog I was planning about the benefits of pet therapy in pain management, I came across a recent Finnish study suggesting that pet owners are more likely to be overweight and unhealthy than those who had no pets. It just didn’t seem right to me – so I decided to go to the source and read the original article.
The researchers surveyed about 8 thousand people. They found that a total of 80% of those with pets and 82% of those without pets reported good health.
They also said,
“In the multivariate ordinal logistic regression analysis, perceived health was no longer associated with pet ownership. When investigating which explanatory variables included in the model caused the disappearance of the statistical significance, basic education, form of housing, or BMI did so.”
Translation: being at risk for poorer health is not really about your pet, it’s about your socio-economic status and the degree to which you are overweight.
But this still begs the question: why are Finnish people in poorer health more likely to have a pet?
The authors offer this explanation:
“Pets seem to be part of the lives of older people who have settled down and experience an increase in the number of illnesses, whereas young healthy single people have no time, need, or possibility for a pet.”
Hmmm. Would an American survey find similar results I wonder? Is there any cultural bias in these data? What do you think? Are American pet owners more likely to be overweight and socio-economically challenged than non-pet owners?
Source: Koivusilta, L. and Ojanlatva, A. PloS ONE, December 2006; vol 1: pp e109. News release, Public Library of Science.
This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.