Researchers at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions’ department of clinical and health psychology are conducting a number of behavioral intervention studies to address pediatric obesity and comorbid conditions.
In a new study launched last fall, researchers are examining how sleep, eating and physical activity patterns interact in children ages 6 to 9 years old. The Sleep, Eating, and Activity study is one of the first of its kind to focus on how the timing of when children go to sleep and wake up might influence how active they are and what they eat. The study is led by clinical psychology doctoral student Ms. Kendra Krietsch and Dr. David Janicke, a professor in the department of clinical and health psychology.
“Many parents are aware that sleep is important to their children’s health but are a little fuzzy on the details,” Ms. Krietsch said. “This study will be able to give us more specific information about how bedtime might impact things like a child’s appetite or motivation to go play ball outside.”
Previous research has found that school-aged children currently sleep less now than they ever have before, and are also less active than they were several decades ago. Recent large-scale epidemiological studies show that sleep influences weight and weight-related behaviors, yet little is known about the behavioral and physiological changes that may be responsible for weight gain.
Results from the UF study have the potential to inform the study of children’s activity and eating practices and may ultimately help inform prevention and intervention efforts aimed at addressing broader issues of childhood obesity, the researchers say.