Early to bed is the secret to raising a skinny child

sleeping protects little ones from obesityDo you dread “putting” your child to bed ?

Many kids view going to sleep as some kind of punishment – whining and wailing to stay up, a little longer.

Do you give in to “keep the peace” and avoid the battle of wills ? Research suggests this is a battle you can’t afford to lose.

What is lighting the FLAME of obesity ?

The Family Lifestyle, Activity, Movement and Eating (FLAME) study explored what was happening in the homes of 244 New Zealand youngsters, in an attempt to piece together why more and more kids, are developing weight problems.

Each child’s weight, height and body mass index (BMI) and body composition were measured at six monthly intervals, beginning at the age of 3 years, until they turned 7. In addition to keeping tabs on their weight, the team assessed the child’s sleep habits, eating habits and physical activity levels in the first three years of the study i.e. at 3,4 and 5 years.

Sleep habits trump

On average the little ones were sleeping for 11 hours per day.

When the team crunched the numbers, an interesting pattern emerged. The kids who slept the longest each night, were the skinniest at the end of the study.

The difference was small, for each additional hour the child spent “in bed”, the BMI dropped by 0.49, which translates to 0.7 kg. Significantly the difference was not just a weight difference, but a difference in the amount of fat. Since fat cells are the trouble makers sporting a few less of them is a positive health move in the long run.

Sleep-fat connection

The sleep-obesity connection is well described in adults.

Studies have shown sleep deprivation

The New Zealand study extends the sleep-obesity connection to kids.

Early to bed, early to rise makes a kid skinny, healthy and wise !

The sleep battle is the one to win

Parenting can be exhausting and to retain your sanity you do need to pick your battles, but conceding the “go to sleep battle”, could leave you battling obesity down the line.

NOTE : It may seem a little unconventional, but you’re probably do more good allowing that cookie for breakfast, as a reward for climbing into bed early. And you will be the coolest mother in the world.

Longitudinal analysis of sleep in relation to BMI and body fat in children: the FLAME study. BMJ (2011) 342  d2712.  P. J. Carter, B. J. Taylor, S. M. Williams, R. W. Taylor.

Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind those extra fat layers ?

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Further reading

fat kid drinking low fat milk brain learning about calories fructose tying leptin up
The fat kids are all drinking low fat milk Eating diet foods causes children to flunk out of calorie school Biting into too many “apples” the beginning of obesity ?

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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