Preschoolers who are regularly in bed by 8 p.m., are far less likely to become obese teenagers than young children who go to sleep later in the night, a new research has found.
According to the research published in the Journal of Pediatrics, bedtimes after 9 p.m. appeared to double the likelihood of obesity later in life.
“For parents, this reinforces the importance of establishing a bedtime routine,” said Sarah Anderson, associate professor at the Ohio State University College of Public Health.
Obesity can set kids up for a lifelong struggle with weight and health complications that can accompany it, including diabetes and heart disease, the study revealed.
“It’s something concrete that families can do to lower their child’s risk and it’s also likely to have positive benefits on behavior and on social, emotional and cognitive development,” added Anderson.
For the study, the researchers used data from 977 children who were part of the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development.
The 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 four and a half years old when their mothers reported their typical weekday bedtime.
The researchers found a striking difference. Only one in 10 of the children with the earliest bedtimes were obese teens, compared to 16 per cent of children with mid-range bedtimes and 23 per cent 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.
Because the emotional climate at home can influence routines such as bedtime, the researchers also examined interactions between mothers and their children.
Regardless of the quality of the maternal-child relationship, there was a strong link between bedtimes and obesity, the researchers found. But the children who went to bed latest and whose moms had the lowest sensitivity scores faced the highest obesity risk.
The researchers also found that later bedtimes were more common in children who were not white, whose mothers had less education and who lived in lower-income households.