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Study links light exposure to obesity in kids

Posted:  Monday, December 21, 2015

Study makes news, links weight gain in kids to light exposure! Doctors generally focus on food and physical activity when dealing with obesity in kids. Thanks to a pathbreaking study, they may soon have to take a relook at the causal factors of weight gain. The study finds that exposure to light may influence the weight of preschool children.

The novel study, a world first, has been published in the PLOS ONE journal. The researchers considered 3-5 year old children from six Brisbane childcare centres for the study. They measured the children’s body mass index (BMI), sleep, activity and light exposure for two weeks at time 1. They also conducted a follow-up after 1 year.

The results were intriguing. The researchers found that moderate intensity light exposure was linked to higher BMI at time 1. Contrastingly, children who had their biggest light exposure in the afternoon were slimmer. At follow-up, children exposed to more total light at time 1 had higher body mass after 1 year. The connection between weight and light was apparent even after time 1 body weight, sleep, and activity were factored in.

Childhood obesity is a global public health problem of enormous proportions. About 42 million children worldwide below the age of five are either overweight or obese. Factors such as less physical activity, high calorie intake, short sleep duration, and erratic sleep timing are blamed for the weight gain. Now, one may have to incriminate light exposure too.

Animal studies had previously shown that the timing and intensity of light exposure is connected to metabolic function and weight status. The findings of this study agree with these outcomes. Keeping the study results in perspective, the researchers said, "Artificial lighting, including light given off by tablets, mobile phones, night lights, and television, means modern children are exposed to more environmental light than any previous generation. This increase in light exposure has paralleled global increases in obesity. "

Moving forward, the researchers plan to explore the light exposure-obesity link in infants and its clinical impact in this population.

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