Saturday, August 31, 2013

Childhood sleep issues could signal eating disorders

A study that looked at what may signal a child may eventually develop an eating disorder found that sleep problems during early childhood was the only signal found.
Researchers, clinicians, and sufferers are often interested in finding out what leads to eating disorders, what causes them, and how we can predict them (if at all). A recent research study done in Norway and published by the Journal of Eating Disorders sought to do just that.
Researchers used results from a 15-year-long longitudinal community study to investigate risk factors from early childhood (before age 5) for adolescent eating problems. The study began with 921 mothers completing questionnaires regarding their 1 ½ year old child. 784 mothers completed questionnaires at age 2 ½ and 737 at age 4 ½. When the children were 16 years old, 373 mothers also completed a questionnaire about eating problems called the Eating Attitudes Test.
The study looked at several possible risk factors from early childhood including picky eating in early childhood, sleep problems, internalizing problems, shyness, and emotionality. Interestingly, the only risk factor that was associated with the development of eating problems in adolescent was early childhood sleep problems.
Although this does not mean that sleep problems cause eating disorders, it may mean that there is some type of psychological or biological problem that results in both sleep problems in early childhood and eating problems in adolescence. However, given that this is the only study to show a such a correlation, the results must be duplicated before anyone begins to worry about a sleepless two-year-old developing an eating disorder at age 16.
Interestingly, picky eating in early childhood was not correlated with the development of eating disorders late in life (much to the relief of toddler parents everywhere).
Read more here

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