A new study by Ohio State University says regular bedtimes help stop children from becoming overweight. Regular meal times and less than half an hour of TV a day also help ward off obesity later in life, the study shows.
Dr. LaTanya Love, associate professor of pediatrics at McGovern Medical School and a pediatrician with U.T. Health and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, agrees with the finding. “If you are a child that has a regular bedtime,” she notes, “then you are a little bit less likely to have obesity.”
Dr. Love says the study looked at kids age three and then later at age 11, and describes what happened to children without regular bedtimes. “They were twice as likely to be obese at 11 [as] those with regular bedtimes,” she pointed out.
Dr. Love points out a connection between poor sleep and weight gain. “Kids and adults who are tired may not eat as well,” she observes. “They may crave higher fat and higher carb foods, so those are again things that can contribute to obesity.” She says regular bedtimes and mealtimes and limited TV will lead to “better emotional regulation.”
She says adults also benefit from regular sleep habits, and it’s best to start young. “It’s so important to start good habits while you are a child,” she says, “so that they translate into the teenage years, the young adult years, and later on in life, because these are patterns that will follow you.”