Childhood obesity is a serious health issue in the United States. Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that 18% of children aged six to 11 are obese and that childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 30 years.
Unfortunately, there are potentially serious short-term and long-term health issues associated with childhood obesity, such as cardiovascular disease, prediabetes and even certain types of cancer.
With these alarming statistics in mind, it’s important for parents to do whatever they can to ensure that their children don’t suffer obesity. A recent study from the University of Illinois suggests that one way they may be able to do this is by promoting good sleep hygiene.
According to Huffington Post Canada, the study, which involved 337 preschool children, revealed that parents who promote good sleep hygiene are less likely to have obese children. The researchers reportedly examined four factors that have been shown to protect against childhood obesity: quality family meal time, limited television time, not having a television in the bedroom and good sleep hygiene.
Ultimately, they determined that sleep was the most important factor. The children who got at least 10 hours of sleep each night were far less likely to be obese.
Furthermore, the researchers concluded that parents who practiced good sleep hygiene had a greater chance of having children who practiced good sleep hygiene, suggesting that the parental sleep routine has an important effect on sleep habits among children.
"Parents should make being well rested a family value and a priority," said Barbara H. Fiese, director of the University of Illinois’s Family Resiliency Center, as reported by the source. "We viewed how long parents slept and how long children slept as part of a household routine and found that they really did go together."
If your child isn’t getting enough sleep at night, he or she may be suffering from a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. While sleep apnea is less common in children than adults, research suggests that up to 4% of children suffer from this disorder.