Bedtimes after 9 p.m. appeared to double the likelihood of obesity later in life, according to a study from The Ohio State University College of Public Health. Preschoolers who are regularly tucked into bed by 8 p.m. are far less likely to become obese teenagers than young children who go to sleep later in the evening, new research has found.
Excess weight in children is a major health concern in the United States. Approximately 17 percent – 12.7 million – of children and adolescents are obese, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Obesity can set kids up for a lifelong struggle with weight and health complications that can accompany it, including diabetes and heart disease.
New research, which appears in the The Journal of Pediatrics, used data from 977 children who were part of the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. That project followed healthy babies born at 10 U.S. sites in 1991.
Researchers divided preschool bedtimes into three categories: 8 p.m. or earlier, between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., and after 9 p.m. The children were about 4 ½ years old when their mothers reported their typical weekday bedtime.
The researchers linked preschoolers’ bedtimes to obesity when the kids were teens, at an average age of 15.
They found a striking difference: Only 1 in 10 of the children with the earliest bedtimes were obese teens, compared to 16 percent of children with mid-range bedtimes and 23 percent of those who went to bed latest. Half the kids in the study fell into the middle category. A quarter had early bedtimes and another quarter went to bed late.
Professor of psychology Charles Emery and other researchers at the Ohio State University have observed some interesting data about obesity in a recent study. The study focused on the home environment of obese and non obese participants and found that obese participants kept more visible food throughout the house and that food tended to be less-healthy. Both obese and non obese participants reported eating about the same number of calories and spent about the same amount on food; however, the non obese participants spent less on fast food.
The amount of food in participants’ homes was similar, however obese participants tended to store food in visible places throughout the house rather than it being concentrated in the kitchen. However Emery was quick to point out: “We’re painting a detailed picture of the home environment that two different groups of people have created. Whether that environment contributed to obesity or obesity led to the environment, we don’t know.”
Emery also stated:
“I do think the home environment is a really important place to focus on since that’s where most people spend a majority of their time. For interventions, we should be thinking about the home as a place to start helping people establish what we know to be healthier habits and behaviors.”
Emery pointed out that changing eating habits isn’t like shaking most bad habits – like smoking – as one cannot simply stop eating. The study reported that obese participants stated greater, non-monetary concerns about access to food and found it more difficult not to eat when stressed out or in a place or situation where eating is socially acceptable.
“You can’t just stop eating, but ideally you can change the way you eat and, to some degree, change the way you’re thinking about eating.”