Later Meals Do Not Contribute to Childhood Obesity

Later Meals Do Not Contribute to Childhood Obesity

Children who eat after 8 p.m. are not at any higher risk for childhood obesity, according to a new study. Creative commons image by Ldanmizz1.

Children who eat after 8 p.m. are not at any higher risk for childhood obesity, according to a new study. Creative commons image by Ldanmizz1.

An old wives’ tale suggests that people should not eat too late at night, because otherwise it can impact their digestion, causing weight issues.

But a recent study found that even when eating after 8 p.m., the time of night that a person, specifically a child eats, does not yield childhood obesity.

The study involved reviewing children’s food diaries within the UK, over a four-day period. Participating kids were between the ages of 11 and 18, and 1,620 results were analyzed between the years 2008 and 2012. What they did find was whether a child ate at four in the afternoon, versus 10 p.m. the child did not contend with a weight issue.

It was believed that by eating later in the day, it would impact a child’s circadian rhythms, which in simpler terms is the child’s body clock.

In fact, protein is one of the building blocks of good nutrition, and also a building block that helps to build muscle mass, and not fat. Boys between the ages of four and 10 were eating a greater amount of protein after 8 p.m., while girls were eating more carbohydrates when they ate later in the day.

One of the possibilities is that there might be fewer children involved in the study who truly eat after 8 p.m., which would also be why there is no correlations between obesity and eating after 8 p.m.

There could be other factors that influenced the results of the study. The amount of sleep that a child has, the amount of exercise that they enjoy, and the possibility that a child may have skipped breakfast, are just several of the factors that could negatively influence the study.

Researchers suggest repeating the study results, which includes polling 1,620 children by reading their food diaries and analyzing the results. The data was gathered over a four-day period, with parents or the kids themselves chronicling what they ate during that period.

The study also calculated each child’s height, weight, and BMI (body mass index).

The study was featured in the British Journal of Nutrition.

King’s College London is also looking into other nutrition studies and how nutrition impacts children, through the results they have received from this study. Among the topics they are researching is how eating breakfast impacts the daily amount of calories that a child has, plus how a child’s food choices throughout the rest of the day are influenced by how they start their day. Plus, a child’s sleep levels also influence obesity, since a lack of sleep in children can contribute to childhood obesity. Also, children who ate their meal after 8 p.m. had energy levels that rivaled their classmates who ate their meal prior to that time.

At the present time, there is no evidence that can directly indicate that children eating regularly later meals will battle issues with obesity.

Nearly one-third of the youth population within the United States is challenged with obesity issues. Childhood obesity has remained on the rise for about three decades due to a more sedentary lifestyle among children, combined with a more “western” diet, meaning food choices that are high in salt, fat and carbohydrates.



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