Early Bedtime in Preschool Years Might Prevent Obesity in Adolescence

Summary and Comment |
July 18, 2016

Early Bedtime in Preschool Years Might Prevent Obesity in Adolescence

  1. Christine M. Judge, MS

Kids going to bed before 8 p.m. were half as likely to become obese as kids staying up past 9 p.m.

  1. Christine M. Judge, MS

To determine whether putting preschoolers to bed early might reduce their risk for adolescent obesity, researchers assessed data from 977 U.S. children enrolled in a prospective cohort study at birth in 1991. Bedtime was reported by mothers when children were of preschool age, and body-mass index was assessed at age 15 years.

At a mean age of 4.7 years, 25% of children had bedtimes at or before 8 p.m., 50% between 8 and 9 p.m., and 25% after 9 p.m. After adjustment for maternal sensitivity (determined by observations of mother-child play interactions) and other factors, risk for adolescent obesity was reduced by half in children going to bed at or before 8 p.m., compared with those going to bed after 9 p.m. Nonwhite race/ethnicity, lower socioeconomic status, and lower maternal education were associated with later bedtimes.

Comment — Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine

  1. Louis M. Bell, MD

Prospective studies show that short sleep duration in young children is associated with risks for obesity and parent- and teacher-reported behavioral difficulties. Unfortunately, the total sleep time was not reported in this study, so we cannot rule out the possibility that a regular routine — regardless of bedtime — along with adequate sleep duration are the key components to healthy sleep patterns during childhood. In these results, later bedtime might be a proxy for a lack of household routines. In our advice to parents, encouraging early bedtime is still probably the best approach to ensuring adequate sleep duration in young children.

Editor Disclosures at Time of Publication

  • Disclosures for Louis M. Bell, MD at time of publication Grant / Research support NIH Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Award; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality National Center for Pediatric Practice Based Research Learning; Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Editorial boards Current Problems in Pediatric Adolescent Healthcare (Associate Editor)

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Reader Comments (2)

BRYAN SIEGFRIED Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, Rural Health Clinic

Could there be a bias here? Possibly parents who are more conscientious about bed times are also more conscientious about diet and activity? OTOH, possibly encouraging a routine of early bedtime is a simple, concrete step that will help empower parents to have more regimen in other facets of their childrens' lives.

Lindsey.Anderson Other Healthcare Professional

Interesting

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