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Obesity Linked to Lack of Sleep in Childhood

Enforcing bedtime rules may be an important factor in helping kids maintain healthy weight levels. A comprehensive research review of 42 studies with 75,499 participants, conducted by University of Warwick researchers in Coventry, England, found that short sleep durations in infants, children and adolescents were a risk factor for gaining weight and developing obesity. Data analysis showed that children and teens who slept less than others of the same age gained more weight as they grew older and were more likely to become overweight or obese.

“Being overweight can lead to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes,
which is also on the increase in children,” said lead study author Michelle
A. Miller, PhD. “The findings of this study indicate that sleep may be an important,
potentially modifiable risk factor (or marker) of future obesity.”

The National Sleep Foundation in Washington, D.C., recommends different sleep durations for different age groups, as shown in the chart.

Children who slept less than these amounts were defined as short sleepers. Study authors think that, for weight management, getting enough sleep is as important as healthy eating and exercise.

The study is available in Sleep (2018; doi:10.1093/sleep/zsy018).

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