Three studies related to childhood obesity were published this month in Pediatrics.  The results of the first study (Mitchell, et al) indicate that the amount of sleep that teenagers get directly impacts their risk of obesity:

[W]e found that less sleep was associated with greater increases in adolescent BMI from age 14 to 18, with the association strongest at the upper tail of the BMI distribution. This is an important finding and suggests that increasing sleep duration, especially for those in the upper half of the BMI distribution, could help to reduce the prevalence of adolescent obesity.


So more sleep is better for teens. The reason is that when you’re awake, you eat, and when you’re asleep, you don’t. Makes sense.

The second study (Bickham, et al) investigated the risk of obesity related to screen time in front of TV, video games, and computers. What is interesting is that time spent using a computer and playing video games was not associated with an increased BMI (body mass index). There was no relation between these two activities and obesity! And when it came to TV, the duration of viewing was also not related to obesity. Rather:

These findings support the notion that attention to TV is a key element of the increased obesity risk associated with TV viewing. Mechanisms may include the influence of TV commercials on preferences for energy-dense, nutritionally questionable foods and/or eating while distracted by TV. Interventions that interrupt these processes may be effective in decreasing obesity among screen media users.


So when a food or beverage commercial comes on, change the channel! And, don’t eat with the TV on!

In the final study, DiSantis, et al had kids serve themselves food on different-sized dishes and bowls. The larger the dish or bowl, the more food they served themselves and the more they ate, thus increasing their risk of obesity. The authors suggest:

Encouraging parents to use smaller dishware may be a relatively straightforward and acceptable strategy that can be used by clinicians to promote age-appropriate child portion sizes across diverse populations.


That’s a good strategy for anyone trying to control calories.


(Image: Carlos