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Send the kids to bed!

Preschool aged children who go to bed late are at greater risk of obesity when they’re older.

Going to bed before 8pm is strongly associated with lower rates of obesity in adolescence. This particular study was published in The Journal of Pediatrics and led by researchers at The Ohio State University College of Public Health. It provides a scientific basis for enforcing bedtimes that both parents and pediatricians can be guided by.

Childhood obesity is a growing concern in every country of the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents aged between 2 and 19 years are obese. The lifetime risks of developing serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes are enormous. The more years of their life a person is overweight, the greater the chances they’ll develop health problems and the less likely they are to ever lose the weight. Hence trying to maintain a healthy weight during childhood is so important.

The investigators used information from 977 children who were part of the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Preschool children fell into one of three bedtime categories: before 8 p.m., between 8 and 9 p.m. and after 9 p.m. All the children were aged between 4 and 5 years. When those same children were teenagers, the researchers looked for an association between their bedtimes as young children and their later risk of obesity.

When they were teenagers, the kids who had gone to bed before 8pm had a 10 percent incidence of obesity. If they went to bed after 9pm, they were 23 percent more at risk of obesity. According to the researchers, “For parents, this reinforces the importance of establishing a bedtime routine. 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.”

That’s very true; earlier studies have shown that young children who go to bed earlier tend to perform better academically and experience less depression and anxiety. An earlier bedtime is good for parents too; more quality time together to relax and unwind from the stress of the day.

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THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FDA AND ARE NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT OR CURE ANY DISEASES.