Not eating breakfast or getting enough sleep can make children overweight
Mothers smoking in pregnancy, children skipping breakfast, and children not getting enough sleep, all appear to be important factors in predicting whether a child will become overweight or obese. Researchers from UCL have published a paper in Pediatrics that calls for prompt intervention in order to slow the growth of overweight and obesity in children. The paper looked at data from 19,244 families over a 9 year period, using the Millennium Cohort Study. The researchers were using observational information, meaning that they cannot draw firm conclusions, however the sample size was large and they were able to take into account a range of lifestyle factors that could impact the results.
It is already known that children of obese parents are more likely to be overweight themselves; this could be due to their obesogenic environment, or a genetic predisposition. However, this research also highlights the importance of lifestyle choices that can greatly contribute to the risk of obesity. Disrupted routines, as well as a lack of sleep, can increase appetite and the consumption of energy dense foods. Overall, the researchers were hoping to increase parental education with their findings, so that the growth of overweight and obesity can be curbed.