According to a recent study from The Ohio State University College of Public Health: “Bedtime in Preschool-Aged Children and Risk for Adolescent Obesity”, bedtimes after 9 p.m. appeared to double the likelihood of obesity later in life.
This new research used data from 977 children who were part of the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, in which followed healthy babies born at 10 U.S. sites in 1991.
The authors divided preschool bedtimes into three categories: 8 p.m. or earlier, between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., and after 9 p.m. The children were about 4 ½ years old when their mothers reported their typical weekday bedtime. The researchers linked preschoolers' bedtimes to obesity when the kids were teens, at an average age of 15.
They found a striking difference: Only 1 in 10 of the children with the earliest bedtimes were obese teens, compared to 16 percent of children with mid-range bedtimes and 23 percent of those who went to bed latest.
Previous research has established a relationship between short sleep duration and obesity. And one study found a correlation between late bedtimes and obesity risk five years later. This new bedtime study is the first to use data on obesity collected about a decade after the children were in preschool.
Given the plausible mechanisms linking earlier bedtimes and healthy body weight, along with benefits to children’s social and emotional functioning, pediatricians should encourage parents to establish a routine of early bedtimes for young children and support parents in their efforts to overcome the barriers they face in implementing this routine.
Sarah E. Anderson, Rebecca Andridge, Robert C. Whitaker. Bedtime in Preschool-Aged Children and Risk for Adolescent Obesity. The Journal of Pediatrics, July 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.06.005