Fight Childhood Obesity with This Simple Trick
If you’re a parent who’s troubled by the growing obesity epidemic among children, there’s something you can do to help. It’s simple, really: Put them to bed with the lights out.
Sounds like common sense. But experts have noted a troubling rise in childhood obesity rates, and say that lack of adequate sleep affects how much kids eat, and how much they weigh.
The link between too little sleep and out-of-control eating has been demonstrated repeatedly among adults. But a recent article in the influential medical journal, Pediatrics, pointed out that children are also vulnerable to this effect when parents fail to enforce regular bedtimes. Everyone needs adequate sleep to be at their best. Sleep affects everything from your ability to fight off infections, to your risk of certain types of cancer. For adults this usually means getting at least 8 hours of sleep. Because their brains are still growing, plenty of shut eye may be even more important for children. And they need more of it than adults. Depending on their age and stage of development, children may need up to 11 hours of sleep per day.
For the present study, kids were divided into two groups. Long story short; some kids got just one-and-a-half hours less sleep than normal, while others got more. The children who slept more ate less and gained less weight than kids who spent less time sleeping. The longer-sleepers also had lower levels of a hormone that stimulates appetite.
The best way to ensure that you child stays healthy, and maintains a healthy body weight, may be to impose a strict, regular bedtime that allows plenty of time to get the rest he or she needs. The bedroom should be cool, and dark as possible. No TVs, no smartphones and no computers. If your child is not accustomed to a regular bedtime, he or she may resist at first. But I think children ultimately crave routine. And I know their bodies and minds will benefit from plenty of restful sleep. Some day, they may even thank you!
Hart CN, Carskadon MA, Considine RV, Fava JL, Lawton J, Raynor HA, Jelalian E, et al. Changes in Children’s Sleep Duration on Food Intake, Weight, and Leptin. Pediatrics. 2013 Nov 4. [Epub ahead of print]