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With an ongoing focus on childhood obesity, Penn State College of Medicine released research last week looking at sleep habits and obesity prevention.

Through the INSIGHT (Intervention Nurse Start Infants Growing on Healthy Trajectories) study, the intervention on healthy sleep habits was recently shown to cut in half the incidence of 1-year-old infants being overweight. One component of the intervention promotes improving sleep-related behaviors for parents and their infants.

The research shows infants of parents who learned bedtime techniques had more consistent bedtime routines, earlier bedtimes, better sleep-related behaviors and longer sleep during the night. The infants were also less likely to be fed back to sleep when they awoke overnight.

Boiling Springs Family Medicine physician Dr. Chad Jumper talked about where the community stands currently with childhood obesity rates after years of national attention and programs.

Q: Since childhood obesity hit the national awareness, have you or the medical community seen an improvement in obesity rates?

A: "We have seen some decrease in prevalence in pre-school age children. However, the rates of obesity in other age groups among children have remained steady."

Q: At what point is a child or adult considered obese?

A: "Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. This is a calculation based on height and weight. For example, a 5-foot-9 individual is considered obese with a weight of 203 pounds or higher."

Q: What are some of the factors that have contributed to childhood obesity?

A: "Factors affecting childhood obesity rates include poor diet, lack of exercise, and increased use of television and electronic devices. Many of these behaviors are passed from parent to child."

Q: What are the health concerns for children who are obese?

A: "Obese children are more at risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint problems, asthma, sleep apnea, low self esteem, depression and resultant school issues."

Q: What are some tips you give parents to help children fight obesity?

A: "Parents need to first examine their behaviors and how they affect their children. Many studies have shown diet and exercise patterns in children are learned at a very early age and are molded from what they see around them. Limiting use of television and electronic devices and finding physical activities that can be enjoyed by the family are key ways to help children achieve and maintain a healthy weight."

Dr. Chad Jumper is a family practice physician at Boiling Springs Family Medicine and is board certified in family medicine. Check Boiling Springs Family Medicine on Twitter @DrChadJumper and on Facebook. This information is intended for educational purposes. Please consult your health care provider for advice about treatments that may affect your individual health.

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