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Breakfast and sleep may help kids control their weight

Harold Mandel's picture

Researchers say that missing breakfast and not getting adequate sleep can result in kids becoming overweight. Addressing these issues may help cut down obesity in kids.


There has been an epidemic of childhood obesity. This is a serious health condition which is associated with increased rates of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and poor mental health. Scientists have said children can become overweight from not eating breakfast and not getting adequate sleep.

The University College London reports that according to new research mothers who smoke while they are pregnant, children not eating breakfast, not adhering to a regular bedtime, and not getting enough sleep all appear to be significant factors in making predictions about whether a child will become overweight or obese.

Researchers have investigated lifestyle factors which seem to predict weight gain

The researchers have investigated lifestyle factors which seem to predict weight gain. In view of the consideration that these early lifestyle factors can be modified it appears possible that timely intervention could have a significant impact on cutting down the risk for children being overweight and obese.

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There is an increase in the risk for mental health issues arising in children who are overweight or obese. These mental health issues can extend into the adolescent years and adult years. The poor psychosocial well-being is associated with low self-esteem, unhappiness and an increase in risk taking behaviors such as cigarette smoking and drinking alcohol.

Professor Yvonne Kelly, who is associated with the University College London and who led this study, says it has been well known that kids of overweight or obese mothers are more likely to be obese. This seems to be due to what Professor Kelly refers to as an ‘obesogenic’ environment and perhaps also to a genetic predisposition to gaining weight.

Disruption of regular routines can influence weight gain

In this study we see that disruption of regular routines, such as is seen by sleeping patterns which are not regular and not eating breakfast, could have an influence on weight gain via increased appetite and the eating of foods which are energy dense according to Professor Kelly. Clearly intervention strategies are needed to address these issues.

This study has been published in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers have identified several potentially modifiable factors in early life which can serve as predictors of becoming overweight and obese. These factors include smoking during pregnancy, not eating breakfast, and poor bedtime routines. An understanding of these modifiable risk factors leaves open the possibility of more effective intervention to deal with weight control problems.