Teaching parents about healthy infant sleep habits 'can prevent obesity'

30 June 2016

Childhood obesity could be curtailed if more parents were taught about healthy infant sleeping habits.

This is according to a new study from Penn State College of Medicine, which aimed to see if  promoting better sleep-related behaviours for parents and their infants could reduce the number of one-year-olds found to be overweight.

Parents were randomly assigned to one of two groups, with one receiving obesity prevention education that included tips on sleep-related behaviours, bedtime routines, improving sleep duration and avoiding feeding and rocking to sleep, while the other group was given more general safety education about preventing sudden infant death syndrome.

Those in the former group were shown to encourage more consistent bedtime routines, earlier bedtimes, better sleep-related behaviors and longer sleep during the night in their infants than the latter.

As a result, their children were more likely to self-soothe to sleep without being fed and less likely to be fed back to sleep when they awoke overnight, thus reducing their risk of weight gain.

Study leader Dr Ian Paul, professor of paediatrics and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, said: "New parents of infants aren't thinking about obesity. Our intervention is designed to prevent obesity without having to explicitly talk to parents about their child's weight."

Posted by Edward Bartel


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