Good Sleep, Eating Together and Less TV Can End Childhood Obesity

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February 8, 2010

Childhood obesity is a top concern for parents and health care providers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 9 million children in the USA between the ages 6 – 19 years are overweight or obese. While good diet and exercise are two important steps to overcoming childhood obesity, a new study published in the research journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that family behavior may well be the key to fighting childhood obesity.

The study found that when families ate dinner together, their children were more likely to get better sleep, watch less TV – and were 40% less likely to be obese. Although eating together, getting a good night’s sleep and watching less TV seem easy enough to do, parent work schedules and after-school activities make it hard for the modern American family to practice all three. The study’s lead author, Sarah Anderson, explained in the Statesman Journal that parents should "make these behaviors a priority. Sit down and figure out how you can make it happen."

As family work at making the switch to improve the lives of their children, here are two tips that can help combat obesity and improve sleep.

  • Make healthy choices for your meals. Avoid fast foods. Eat more fish, fruits and vegetables; avoid foods high in carbohydrates or fats.
  • Start getting consistent exercise, which will improve the quality of your sleep. Most experts, however, say to avoid exercising less than 3 hours before bedtime, because exercise is alerting and can make it harder to fall asleep.

Learn more about sleep and obesity by searching our Web site, and check out the study Household Routines and Obesity in US Preschool-Aged Children . Also, click here to see what the CDC has to say about childhood obesity.