Lack of Enough Sleep and Skipping Breakfast Increases Childhood Obesity

The common belief so far was that children become obese because they overeat. But new research shows that you can tell whether or not a child is going to end up obese or overweight depending on whether they skip breakfast or if they get regular sleep. The study was published in the November 2016 US journal of Pediatrics, and it’s the first to look at BMI figures for children in their first 10 years of life. BMI is an index of obesity.

The research was based on the Millennium Cohort Study, which involved children from 19,244 families in the UK. The study was conducted between September of 2000 and January of 2002. The weights and heights of these children were recorded when the children were 3, 5, 7, and 11 years. The study was supported by funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.

Skipping Breakfast Increases Appetite for High Calorie Foods

Previously, it had been proved that children of obese mothers were more likely to end up obese themselves—a reality attributed to the fact that such children were exposed to an environment that promoted behaviors that led to obesity, or the fact that such children were genetically predisposed to obesity.

The study showed that lack of enough sleep and skipping breakfast promoted unhealthy behavior. This included eating foods rich in energy due to an elevated appetite. Therefore, interventions targeting these risk factors could play a role in helping deal with obesity and excess weight in children.

Obesity in children has been linked to a list of other health factors, including poorer mental performance, damaged self-esteem, and risky behaviors such as drug abuse. The research also indicated that things like watching TV, taking sugary drinks, eating fruit, and participation in sporting events did not significantly influence weight gain. So did things like early introduction of solid food and breastfeeding.

Further investigation indicated that most children had a stable normal BMI. In fact, 83.3% of the children in the study belonged to this category. However, 13.1% of the children had a moderately increasing BMI, while 2.5% had a BMI that was increasing at a much faster pace.

Still, 0.6% of these children had BMIs that indicated that they were obese when they were 3. The study also indicated that the group of children whose BMI was “moderately increasing” consisted mainly of girls. However, the group of children whose weights were increasing at a higher rate were more likely to be Pakistani, Black Caribbean or Black African children.

This study tried to relate the children’s BMI to their lifestyle factors and see if the latter can affect the former. Given the multiplicity of factors investigated during the study, the results clearly show that irregular lifestyle behaviors such as lack of enough sleep and skipping breakfast should be avoided as they significantly contribute to childhood obesity rates.

How to Help Your Child Have a Normal Weight

Give it a Healthy Breakfast. Chief nutritionist Alison Tedstone says that you must ensure your child eats a healthy breakfast. Usually, when breakfast is skipped, chances are your child will be prone to a poor, junk diet the rest of the day which will lead to weight gain.

Be a Role Model. Nutritionist Kelly of Lodlois.com, a blog that offers a coupon code for South Beach Diet (URL), says that as a parent you must practice the healthy habits that you want your children to follow, like eating breakfast, and eating fruits and vegetables every day.

Get Creative. If you child doesn’t like some foods, look for new recipes. Experiment with different ways to cook veggies. How about making them grilled or dehydrated?

The good news is that with some planning and education, you can set the foundation for a healthy lifestyle for your little loved ones, today.

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