A study led by Ohio State University in the US found that preschool children who go to bed earlier can avoid having signs of obesity as teenagers.
The study, published in the Journal of Paediatrics, took data from almost 1,000 children in making their conclusions, looking in particular at the bedtimes of the children surveyed.
These kids were separated into three groups based on their average bedtime: 8pm or earlier, between 8pm and 9pm and after 9pm. Researchers compared the data they had on children’s bedtimes to their height, weight and BMI as teenagers, and made some very interesting conclusions.
In their paper, they concluded that only one in 10 of the children with earlier bedtimes were obese as teenagers, compared to 16% of children who had mid-range (between 8pm and 9pm) bedtimes. Even more worrying was the fact that 20% of the children who went to bed after 9pm were obese as teens.
“Pre-school aged children with early weekday bedtimes were half as likely as those with late bedtimes to become obese as adolescents,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
It remains unclear just how bedtime might affect a child’s body weight, with this particular study stopping short of providing answers or suggestions. However, in the past, lack of sleep has been linked to hormones that regular appetite and metabolism, which would certainly explain it.
In any case, it’s yet another reason to ensure your kids are getting to bed at a reasonable time, most of the time, particularly when they’re younger. Not only does it make them easier to manage the following day, but it could very well have long-term health impacts you aren’t even aware of.