Timing and intensity of light exposure is critical for metabolic functioning and weight status, the findings showed.

Researchers studied children aged three to five, from six Brisbane childcare centers. They measured children's sleep, activity and light exposure for a two week period, along with height and weight to calculate their body mass index (BMI), then followed up 12-months later.

At the initial measurements, the researchers found that 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.

At follow-up, children who had more total light exposure at the beginning had higher body mass 12 months later.

This research suggests that exposure to different types of light (both artificial and natural) at different times now needs to be part of the conversation about the weight of children.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.


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