” Regular bedtimes stop children from becoming overweight, a study by Ohio State University has found. Eating meals at the same time every day and watching less than half an hour of television a day will also help to stave off obesity later in life, research suggests. “
Scientists found a link between the daily routines, emotions and weight, while studying the habits of almost 11,000 British children born between 2000 and 2002.
Dr Sarah Anderson, an associate professor in Ohio State’s College of Public Health and the lead author of the report, said: “This study provides more evidence that routines for preschool-aged children are associated with their healthy development and could reduce the likelihood that these children will be obese.”
The study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, is the first to look at the connections between early childhood routines and their potential association with weight issues in the pre-teen years.
Researchers evaluated three household routines that three-year-old children were exposed to: regular bed time, regular meal times and whether or not parents limited television and video watching to an hour or less daily.
All three household routines were associated with better emotional self-regulation, which is a measure of how easily the child becomes frustrated or over-excited. The children with less emotional regulation were more likely to be obese later, according to the study.
Children who did not go to bed at a regular time on school nights were more likely to be obese by age 11. Dr Anderson said: “We saw that children who had the most difficulties with emotion regulation at age three also were more likely to be obese at age 11.”
“This research allows us to better understand how young children’s routines around sleep, meals, and screen time relate to their regulation of emotion and behaviour.
“The large, population-based, UK Millennium Cohort Study afforded the opportunity to examine these aspects of children’s lives and how they impact future risk for obesity.”
“Sleep is so important and it’s important for children in particular. Although there is much that remains unknown about how sleep impacts metabolism, research is increasingly finding connections between obesity and poor sleep.”
Source: The Telegraph