Scientists from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute participated in several peer-reviewed articles that published this month in the International Journal of Obesity Supplements. “These are the first standardized, directly-measured data ever presented across countries from low- to high-income, and they bust some strongly held beliefs about key correlates of childhood obesity and healthy living behaviors,” says Mark Tremblay, PhD, MSc, director of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity (HALO) research group at the CHEO Research Institute and co-Principal Investigator of ISCOLE Canada, in a release, about the series, which was prepared by the International Study of Childhood Obesity, Lifestyle and the Environment (ISCOLE) research group. “Bottom line, contributors to childhood obesity can be quite different between countries. These novel findings suggest that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to obesity prevention is misguided and international insights may lead to innovative, out of the box solutions.”

Jean-Philippe Chaput, PhD, MSc, BSc, HALO scientist at the CHEO Research Institute and co-Principal Investigator of ISCOLE Canada, led a study to look at the link between sleep patterns and lifestyle behaviors in children from 12 countries in five major geographic regions of the world. The findings reveal that short sleep duration, poor sleep quality, and later bedtimes are all associated with unhealthy lifestyle habits. However, the relationships were stronger in high-income countries compared to low/middle income countries, suggesting that interventions aimed at improving sleep and lifestyle behaviours should be culturally adapted to maximize success.

“It is possible that children’s days are too structured or regulated in high-income countries and that there is more flexibility and discretionary time in low-income countries,” says Chaput. “Sleep should not be overlooked by parents or health care practitioners and must be part of the lifestyle package that traditionally has focused on diet and exercise.”