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Light Exposure Linked to Weight Gain in Children

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Pre-schoolers exposed to more light earlier in the day tend to weigh more, according to research presented to the Sleep Downunder Conference in Melbourne.

Early childhood researchers at Queensland University of Technology studied 48 children aged 3–5 years over a 2-week period, measuring each child’s sleep, activity and light exposure along with their height and weight.

“We found moderate intensity light exposure earlier in the day was associated with increased body mass index, while children who received their biggest dose of light – outdoors and indoors – in the afternoon were slimmer,” said PhD student Cassandra Pattinson.

“Surprisingly, physical activity was not associated with the body mass of the children, but sleep timing and light exposure was. This is the first time light has been shown to contribute to weight in children.

“With an estimated 42 million children around the globe under the age of five being classified as overweight or obese, it is a significant breakthrough and a world-first.

“Thanks to artificial lighting, including light given off by tablets, mobile phones, night lights and television, modern children are exposed to more environmental light than any previous generation. This increase in light exposure has paralleled global increases in obesity.”

Pattinson said that the timing, intensity and duration of...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.