Preschoolers going to bed late may end up as obese teenagers
"This reinforces the importance of establishing a bedtime routine. It's something concrete that families can do to lower their child's risk.”
If you find that your little one isn’t so keen on sleeping at an early hour, you’re not the only one. Some parents struggle to put their children to bed at an early hour. That doesn’t mean however that you should allow them to stay up late.
That is because preschoolers who go to bed late are at risk of being obese in their teenage years, says a study conducted by researchers from Ohio State University College of Public Health.
Published in the Journal of Pediatrics, the research is the first to utilise data collected over a 10-year period.
According to a Columbus Dispatch report, the research was based on data from something called the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, which was started 25 years ago and funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Looking into the records of 977 four-and-a-half-year-old children, the researchers studied their different bedtime routines and then compared the data when they were 15 years old.
10 of the children with the earliest bedtime became obese while 16 percent of those with a bedtime between 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. became obese. Among those who slept after 9 p.m., 23 percent became obese, as per the Parent Herald.
"For parents, this reinforces the importance of establishing a bedtime routine," said Sarah Anderson, lead author and associate professor of epidemiology.
"It's something concrete that families can do to lower their child's risk and it's also likely to have positive benefits on behaviour and on social, emotional and cognitive development," she added.
Because the emotional climate of one’s childhood may affect children’s bedtimes, researchers also looked into these children’s relationship with their mothers.
However, in a Eureka Alert report, there was a strong link between bedtimes and obesity regardless of the quality of the maternal-child relationship. Yet children who went to bed latest and whose mums had the lowest sensitivity scores faced the highest obesity risk.
In the study’s conclusion, the researchers said bedtimes “are a modifiable routine that may help to prevent obesity.”
Meanwhile, in a New York Times article, Dr. Anderson was quoted saying “there is a great deal of evidence linking poor sleep, and particularly short sleep duration, to obesity, and it's possible the timing of sleep may be important, above and beyond the duration of sleep.”