Sticking to a routine may cut obesity risk in kids: study

Sticking to a routine may cut obesity risk in kids: study

Parents take note! Eating meals and going to bed on time - as well as limiting the number of hours spent watching television - may boost emotional health and lower the risk of obesity of your children later in life, a new study has found.

Researchers from Ohio State University in the US studied about 10,955 children.

They evaluated three household routines when children were 3 years old: regular bedtime, regular mealtime and whether or not parents limited television and video watching to an hour or less daily.

Researchers compared those to parents' reports of two aspects of children's self-regulation at that same age.

They then investigated how the routines and self- regulation worked together to impact obesity at age 11, defined based on international criteria.

Researchers found that at age 3, 41 percent of children always had a regular bedtime, 47 percent always had a regular mealtime and 23 per cent were limited to an hour or less daily of TV and videos. At age 11, about 6 percent were obese.

They found that all three household routines were associated with better emotional self-regulation - a measure based on parents' responses to questions such as how easily the child becomes frustrated or over-excited, researchers said.

Those children with greater emotional dysregulation were more likely to be obese later, researchers said.

Researchers also found that the absence of a regular preschool bedtime was an independent predictor of obesity at 11.

Obesity risk increased even when children "usually" had a regular bedtime, as opposed to "always." The risk was greatest for those who had the least amount of consistency in their bedtimes, researchers said.

"We saw that children who had the most difficulties with emotion regulation at age 3 also were more likely to be obese at age 11," said Sarah Anderson, an associate professor at Ohio State University.

The study was published in the International Journal of Obesity.

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