Sleep Linked to Childhood Obesity

Tuesday 7th September 2010

Regularly getting a good night's sleep could prevent children from becoming obese, according to a new study published in the journal Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Researchers found that children, babies and toddlers who slept under 10 hours per night were more likely to feel hungry and crave calorie rich foods – and were more than twice as likely to become overweight or clinically obese than their soundly sleeping counterparts.

Scientists believe that the discovery could help to explain the alarming growth in childhood obesity levels, which have doubled in just 20 years.

Experts warn that the results are alarming as children are thought to sleep, on average, for more than an hour less than they did over 30 years ago. And scientists suggest that the worrying trend towards sleep deprivation in childhood could ensure an alarming continuation of rapidly rising obesity rates.

The study is the first to study the impact of sleep deprivation on weight gain in very young children, although previous research has shown adults who complain of sleep problems are more likely to be obese. Researchers hope that their identifying sleep deprivation as a risk-factor for childhood obesity will encourage parents to help to better monitor and nurture positive sleeping habits in their children.

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