New Childhood Obesity Scare Alert!

Every few weeks, morning TV reports about the newest contribution to childhood obesity that rarely provides facts but scares parents. The latest link? A late bedtime. The study found that children who habitually went to sleep late (past 9 p.m.,) had a wider waist and higher body mass index) by the end of the study. The research, which was part of a wider study on obesity, focused on 107 children in Sweden ages 1 to 6, with 64 of the children having a parent who classified as overweight or obese. The researchers monitored each child's weight, height and waist circumference from ages one to six; all of the children had similar measurements when the study started. Sleep was measured for seven consecutive days once a year for the length of the study by using a tracker worn on the child's wrist. However, the lead doctor of this study tells panicked parents to take a beat and not force their kids to turn in early. There are certain cultures where children eat and go to bed later than children in other countries. Dr. Claude Marcus, professor of pediatrics at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and co-author of the study (published today in the journal Pediatrics) implores parents to maintain routine mealtimes and bedtimes. "My personal hypothesis is that this is more of a marker of a more irregular life," says Marcus.

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