New research conducted by the Ohio State University has found that consistency in mealtimes and bedtimes, as well as less than half an hour of television per day may reduce childhood and adult obesity.
The research was based on information gathered from almost 11,000 British children who were born between 2000 and 2002.
Associate Professor of Ohio State's College of Public Health and lead author of the report Dr. Sarah Anderson said that this information gives continued confirmation that it's important for preschool-aged children to have routines. These routines, she said, are not only associated with healthy emotional development, but can also reduce obesity likelihoods in children who do have consistency in these areas.
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The researchers looked at household routines of three-year olds - their bedtimes, mealtimes and television/video limitations - and weighed the connections between these routines and potential weight association in pre-teen years. Consistent routines were associated with better emotional self-regulation, which is important for a child when they become frustrated or over-excited.
According to the study, the children who didn't have regular routine had less emotional regulation and were more likely to become obese later.
Dr. Anderson said that they found that children who did not have regular bedtimes on school nights were more likely to be obese by the age of eleven, and that children who had more difficulties with emotional regulation as three-year-olds were also more likely to be obese by eleven.
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The research suggests that for optimal health and self-regulation, children have limited daily screen time (less than half-hour a day), consistent and regular mealtimes, and regular bedtimes that allow for the amount of sleep the child needs based on his/her age.
Research is continually finding more and more evidence about the importance of sleep, and now, though there is still much to be studied about the connection between metabolism and sleep, there is clearly research that supports connections between poor sleep and obesity.
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