Environmental Light Exposure Is Associated with Increased Body Mass in Children

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The timing, intensity, and duration of exposure to both artificial and natural light have acute metabolic and physiological effects in mammals. Recent research in human adults suggests exposure to moderate intensity light later in the day is concurrently associated with increased body mass; however, no studies have investigated the effect of light exposure on body mass in young children. We examined objectively measured light exposure and body mass of 48 preschool-aged children at baseline, and measured their body mass again 12 months later. At baseline, moderate intensity light exposure earlier in the day was associated with increased body mass index (BMI). Increased duration of light exposure at baseline predicted increased BMI 12-months later, even after controlling for baseline sleep duration, sleep timing, BMI, and activity. The findings identify that light exposure may be a contributor to the obesogenic environment during early childhood.