A recently published research report explored the relationship between setting household routines and schedules during early childhood and the development of obesity in later life.
The development of obesity is multifactorial in nature with metabolism, behaviour, and social situations all playing a role. Arguably, a person’s behaviour is shaped through his or her experiences starting from childhood. Routines and schedules set during early childhood may shape a person’s sense of self-regulation and discipline, which may persist into adulthood.
In an article published in the International Journal of Obesity, a group of researchers conducted a cohort study to determine if regulation of activities during childhood influences the development of obesity. A total of 10,995 children who were born between September 2000 and January 2002 living in the United Kingdom initiated the study 9 months of age. The children were followed-up regularly at ages 3, 5, 7, and 11 years. The following information was asked during the follow-up visits: 1) household routines, and 2) child self-regulation. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated at age 11 to determine if the child was obese.
The results show that 41.4% of children had regular bedtime schedules. 46.6% had regular mealtimes, and 23.1% had daily television viewing of 1 hour or less. At age 11, 6.2% of subjects were considered to be obese. Children who had inconsistent bedtimes and had unrestricted television viewing times were more likely to be obese at age 11 compared to those who had consistent schedules. Inconsistent mealtimes did not have a profound effect on the development of obesity.
Setting regular schedules and household routines in early childhood helps in developing self-regulation, which may lower the risk of developing obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases in adulthood. Additional research to further explore the mechanisms by which emotional and cognitive self-regulation contribute to the development of obesity and other diseases is needed.
Written By: Karla Sevilla