Researchers studied 48 children aged three to five from six Brisbane childcare centres over a two week period, measuring each child's sleep, activity and light exposure along with their height and weight to calculate their body mass index (BMI).
"We found moderate intensity light exposure earlier in the day was associated with increased BMI while children who received their biggest dose of light - outdoors and indoors - in the afternoon were slimmer," said Cassandra Pattinson, a PhD student at Queensland University of
Technology in Australia.
"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," she said.
Pattinson said it is known the timing, intensity and duration of exposure to both artificial and natural light have acute biological effects in mammals.
"Recent research in adults suggests exposure to light later in the day is associated with increased body mass, but no studies had investigated these effects in young children and it turns out it has the opposite effect," Pattinson said.
"While adults who take in more morning light are slimmer, pre-school children exposed to morning light tend to be heavier," she said.


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