“Early to bed, early to rise…” is a saying that we have been taught in school and have also heard our parents trying to instill the idea in our young minds. We didn’t really pay much heed to it then and now, at a time when we lead fast-paced lives, the daily rat race has made it literally impossible to catch the few requisite winks. However, a study has emphasized the importance of establishing the saying as a mantra for children, saying that following a routine can make them less prone to obesity in the long run. The new study suggests that, 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. This conclusion was reached after researchers from the 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 percent 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.

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