Lack of sleep makes for fatter kids

November 14th, 2007 - 8:34 am ICT by admin  
Research findings from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital suggest that lack of sleep, fewer than 9 hours each day, causes children, particularly between six to 12 years, to become overweight, regardless of their gender, race, socioeconomic status, or quality of the home environment.

“Many children aren’t getting enough sleep, and that lack of sleep may not only be making them moody or preventing them from being alert and ready to learn at school, it may also be leading to a higher risk of being overweight,” says study lead author Julie C. Lumeng, M.D., assistant research scientist at the U-M Center for Human Growth and Development.

“This study suggests that an increased risk for overweight is yet another potential consequence of short sleep duration, providing an additional reason to ensure that children are receiving adequate sleep, primarily through enforcing an age-appropriate bed time,” she added.

Researchers looked at the data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development on reported sleep problems, sleep duration and BMI for 785 elementary school children, ages 9 to 12.

They found that overweight sixth-grade children slept fewer hours than children who were not overweight. Boys made up the majority of overweight sixth-grade children.

Boys, too, were reported to sleep fewer hours, while girls were found to have more sleep problems. Sleep problems, however, were not associated with a child being a risk for overweight.

Most promising, these study results show that for every additional hour of sleep in sixth grade, a child was 20 percent less likely to be overweight in sixth grade; every additional hour of sleep in third grade resulted in a 40 percent decrease in the child’s risk of being overweight in sixth grade.

“Sleep may have a behaviour impact on children. In other words, children who are better rested may have more energy to get more exercise. For example, they may be more likely to go out and play, as opposed to lying on the couch watching TV. It also is possible that when children are tired, they may be more irritable or moody, and may use food to regulate their mood,” Lumeng said.

Previous studies have found that sleep-deprived adults produced more ghrelin, a hormone that promotes hunger, and less leptin, a hormone that signals fullness.

The study results are published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics. (ANI)

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