Tag Archives: Dr. Greene

Dads Need to Know: The Link Between the Bedroom and Obesity

Photo by Brandon Atkinsonby Alan Greene, MD

New information has recently been uncovered about an important link between the bedroom and obesity. Okay. I know what you’re thinking. But it’s not that link.

It’s the link between kids’ sleep quality and obesity. The link is more profound and more specific than many people expected. This information is so important because more than 1 in 3 children today end up overweight even as kids.[i]

Sleep in kids has been decreasing since 1905, about the time electric light bulbs were popularized.[ii] Some research suggests that sleep has been decreasing rapidly since the 1980s, during the same period when the childhood obesity epidemic took off.[iii]

More than a dozen studies have shown that the worse kids sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight or obese. But which comes first? Is it that overweight kids sleep worse, that kids who sleep worse become overweight, or that something else is causing both (TV viewing, for instance)?

This new study looked at typical 6-month-old babies and followed them until they were 7 years old to see which ones became obese – checking their sleep all along the way.

Here’s what they found:

Kids with worse sleep as babies and young children were 2.62 times more likely to later become obese. They were also more likely to have bigger waist size and more belly fat. These relationships held up even after adjusting for a number of possible other factors such as television viewing, socioeconomic situations, and Mom’s BMI.[iv]

How might poor sleep lead to significant weight gain? The authors point to mounting evidence that a disrupted circadian rhythm can both directly lead to weight gain by changing our hormone levels and metabolism and indirectly lead to weight gain by changing our hunger, fullness, and decision making.

When it comes to raising kids with a healthy weight during this era of childhood obesity, it’s time to move beyond thinking just about the kitchen to include thinking about the bedroom.

 


[i] Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association [0098-7484], Ogden yr:2014 vol:311 iss:8 pg:806 -814
[ii In search of lost sleep: secular trends in the sleep time of school-aged children and adolescents. Sleep Medicine Reviews [1087-0792], Matricciani yr:2012 vol:16 iss:3 pg:203 -211
[iii] Trends in the duration of school-day sleep among 10- to 15-year-old South Australians between 1985 and 2004 Acta Paediatrica, J. Dollman, K. Ridley, T. Olds, E. Lowe 96 (7) (2007), pp. 1011–1014
[iv] Chronic sleep curtailment and adiposity. Pediatrics, Taveras EM1, Gillman MW2, Peña MM3, Redline S4, Rifas-Shiman SL5.2014 Jun;133(6):1013-22. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-3065.

Tired of Tantrums? Here’s a Dad’s Guide to Becoming a “Toddler-Whisperer” by Dr. Greene

Many of the emotional meltdowns children experience between about 9 and 30 months old bubble up from the frustration of not being able to communicate. So, theterribletwos can be much less terrible the more children learn how to get across their intense and conflicting thoughts.

You can fairly easily prevent tantrums (or, as I like to call them, “emotional storms”) by understanding them in context and following some easy tips for becoming a “toddler-whisperer.” And, clearly this advice isn’t exclusive to dads, but sometimes it’s nice to have some secret tricks up your sleeve to show off what an awesome parent you are. Just don’t keep it secret too long – it’s great for everyone to know how to help ease the frustrations of your child!

First, let’s get some context by trying to understand your child’s perspective. Children in the developmental stage known as the TerribleTwos,” orFirstAdolescence,” increasingly become aware of all the choices available to them and as a result become angry or frustrated when they are powerless over those choices. This frustration can quickly escalate into a full-blown storm.

Consider the grocery store — as an adult, you can choose whether or not you want to go to the grocery store, when to go, what products you’re going to buy, and which products you won’t. Your child has no control over any of these choices. To make the supermarket situation worse, there are cleverly-designed packages up and down the aisles that scream, “Buy me! Buy me! Buy me!” To a large extent we are able to tune that out, but for a small child who is just learning to make choices, it’s like going to a deafening rock concert. Visually they are overwhelmed by high-decibel choices. They are compelled to start wanting some of these attractive items. And, when they can’t have what they want, they dissolve into tears and worse — deafening screams.

While you can’t avoid tantrums altogether, you can do an awful lot to help prevent them and reduce how many you and your child suffer through.

Here are 3 simple tips:

1. Be proactive. Children are most susceptible to storms when they are tired, hungry, uncomfortable or bored, so be attentive to avoiding these physical states.

2. Interact with your child. Whatever you’re doing, talk (or whisper) to your child. If she knows enough words, you can have simple conversations about what she thinks about whatever is happening at the moment. Even something as mundane as grocery shopping can be a delightful opportunity to talk about the world – would your child rather be a strawberry farmer or milk cows to make yogurt? If your child is still in the early phases of speech development, you can ask her to point to things that are the color red. Or, you can use a free app like KidGlyphs, which uses graphics, spoken words, and text to help children communicate beyond their verbal skills – an invaluable tool to help prevent tantrums!

3. Let your child make a couple simple choices. Remember the situation from your child’s perspective: you are going along in this world making choice, after choice, after choice, but when he tries to make a choice, he doesn’t get what he wants. You can see how frustrating this would be.  Back to the store example, it’s often helpful to let your child pick out one or two things. A good way to do this is when a child asks for something, instead of saying, “No,” say, “Let’s write that down.” Then write it down. When your child asks for something else, write that down, too. Then when you’re all done, read back a few of the things on the list that you think would be good choices, and let him pick one or two of the things on the list. If you’re at home and it’s bath time, ask him which towel he’d like to use and if he’d rather you wash his hair or if he’d like to try himself (limiting choices is imperative). If children can make some choices, they will both learn more and feel better.

That’s it! Make these tips a habit and in no time at all, your toddler-whispering skills will be the talk of the playground. Have fun!

 

This post is written by:  Dr. Alan Greene, MD, FAAP

Pediatrician Alan Greene, MD is the founder of DrGreene.com, WhiteOut Now, and KidGlyphs. He is the author of numerous books including award winning Raising Baby Green and Feeding Baby Green. Media appearances include the TODAY Show, the Dr. Oz Show, and The New York Times. He is the recipient of the Healthy Child Healthy World Prevention Award and Intel’s “Children’s Health Hero of the Internet” award. He is the father of four and he wears green socks.