A new study suggests that preschoolers who are regularly put to bed earlier have a lower risk of becoming obese in adolescence. According to the research, kids who go to sleep before 8 p.m. were more likely to stave off obesity than kids who were tucked up in bed after 9 p.m.
Researchers found that delaying bedtime by just one hour could double kids’ risk of obesity later on.
Dr Sarah Anderson, lead author of the study and epidemiology expert from the Ohio State University, underscored the significance of setting up a bedtime routine. And it is all the more easier for parents to do so if they have scientific evidence on their hands.
The new findings could also become a powerful ally in fighting the childhood obesity epidemic that has been plaguing the U.S. in recent years. In the U.S., nearly 13 million kids and teens are obese. Childhood obesity has been often tied with later negative health outcomes such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The latest study is based on data pooled from 977 children enrolled in the federally-funded Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. The study tracked the children for more than a decade from their birth in 1991.
Scientists found that there are three types of preschoolers: those who are put to bed at 8 p.m. or earlier, kids who go to sleep after 8 p.m. but no later than 9 p.m., and kids who get their daily shut-eye after 9 p.m.
Mothers of study participants reported their kids’ bedtime habits at age 4. Study authors looked for a link between early bedtimes and obesity risk when kids were 15 years old. What they found was statistically significant.
The study revealed that only 10 percent of the kids who were put to bed around 8 p.m. and 16 percent of those who went to sleep between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. became obese around the age of 15. By contrast, 23 percent of preschoolers who were put to rest after 9 p.m. developed obesity in their teen years.
About half of study participants had a 8 p.m.-9 p.m. bedtime routine.
Study results remained consistent even after the research team adjusted them for another risk factor for obesity: maternal sensitivity. The indicator assesses how much maternal support a kid gets and how hostile and eager to respect the kid’s autonomy a mother is.
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