sleepless childrenParents must know the connection between fitness, sleep and food in true sense. A recent youth health study by the University of Alberta confirms this relationship.

Raising healthy Eating and Active Living Kids Alberta (REAL Kids Alberta), a joint project between the School of Public Health, the University and Alberta Health, found students with access to electronic devices in their bedrooms were 1.47 times more likely to be overweight. That number increased to 2.57 times for children with three devices in the bedroom.

The study postulates that the less sleep you get, the higher the chances that you fit into that obese category. The more sleep you get, the easier it is for your body to reach a base level of performance and to buffer all those waste products.

The study looked at 150 schools across the province, interviewing students, parents and school principals. Almost 3,500 children were asked what kinds of devices they used past their bedtime.

Researchers studied how the presence of technology in the bedroom competed with sleep and if so, how it translated into bad sleeping habits, poor physical health and possible weight gain.

The study focused on children in Grade 5, as teenagers in junior high and high school already settled into certain behaviors.

Half of the students interviewed had a TV, DVD player or video game console in their bedroom. Twenty-one per cent had a computer and 17 per cent had a cellphone.

Fifty-seven per cent of students said they used electronics past their bedtime. While watching TV was the most popular activity, 27 per cent of the students used all three devices.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends children 12 years and over get 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. The average time for the children interviewed was 10 hours each night with a substantial number not meeting the recommendations.But only one hour of additional sleep can decrease the odds of being overweight by 28 per cent.

The study also found children were often hungrier in the morning, needing to regain lost energy from lack of sleep, or skipped breakfast altogether to rush to school. They hold off food consumption until they get cravings and then they find their way to snacks to satisfy these cravings and it’s a lesser diet then quality milk and bread.

Parents need to stop trying to be friends as opposed to disciplinarians. There is always something physically demanding, even if it’s just playing.The flipside is that it’s a tough age for parents. There are increased costs, and many people come home exhausted and the last thing they want to do is to look after all these other things.

While some parents might accept technology as a convenient substitute for babysitting it’s the industry that generates all kinds of new and entertaining devices.

It all comes down to parents getting their kids to bed on time. Parents are role models for their children. Keep the bedroom for what it’s meant for and don’t rebuild it into an entertainment studio.

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