Children who don’t sleep enough in the first years of life face a higher risk of obesity as they age. A study released from MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) in Massachusetts found that sleep deprivation at ANY point during infancy and early childhood can have a dramatic impact on body fat by the time a child reaches 7 years old.
That’s not good news…
“Contrary to some published studies, we did not find a particular ‘critical period’ for the influence of sleep duration on weight gain. Instead, insufficient sleep at any time in early childhood had adverse effects,” said Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH, chief of General Pediatrics at MGHfC and lead author of the Pediatrics paper in a press release.
The study found that children who slept less than 12 hours per day between 6 months and 2 years old, less than 10 hours between 3 and 4 years old and less than 9 hours between 5 and 7 years old were a high obesity risk. And as those children grow up, their poor sleeping habits and weight gain continues.
Compared to 20 years ago, there are twice as many overweight kids between the ages of 6 and 11 in the United States today. What’s more, the number of obese teens has more than tripled. The bad news is that childhood obesity has reached epidemic status. The good news is that the solution is within our grasp – and it starts with healthy sleep habits for the whole family.
As parents, you’re the biggest influencer of your child’s sleep habits, which begin in infancy and last a lifetime. As your baby reaches toddlerhood, enforcing a regular sleep schedule prepares him or her for the routine of school, but there’s so much more you can do. Here are a few suggestions that will help your child sleep better. For life!
As with anything health related, if you’re concerned about your child’s sleep habits or sleep health, always consult your doctor.
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