Earlier Preschool Bedtimes May Reduce Risk of Teen Obesity


Photo courtesy of Intellistudies/Shutterstock.com

In a study reported in June 2016 in the Journal of Pediatrics by researchers at The Ohio State University College of Public Health, preschoolers who go to bed later — even if just by one hour — become less healthy teenagers.

Researchers found that preschoolers who went to bed earlier had a reduced risk for adolescent obesity. For example, of the children who went to bed at 8 p.m. or earlier, 10 percent became obese teenagers. But of those who went to bed at 9 p.m. or later, the number doubled — with 23 percent becoming obese teens.

Here is a breakdown of study participants’ bedtimes and their risk of obesity 10 years later:

- 25 percent who went to bed before 8 p.m. had a 10 percent chance of obesity.

- 50 percent who went to bed between 8 and 9 p.m. had a 16 percent chance of obesity.

- 25 percent who went to bed after 9 p.m. had a 23 percent chance of obesity.

Researchers noted that children who stay up later often snack on high-calorie foods and may watch TV or use smartphones or tablets in their bedrooms, which further disrupts their sleep cycle.

Katherine Kopp is a freelance writer and editor in Chapel Hill.

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