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Tired Children Pile On the Pounds

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

Several studies have found a link between an adult’s weight and the amount of hours they sleep. Now, a new Canadian study has confirmed these findings in children.

Researchers studied the sleeping habits and weights of 422 children aged between five and 10 years. They discovered those who slept for 10 hours or less every night were three and a half times more likely to be overweight than those who had at least 12 hours sleep every night.

Even more surprisingly, the scientists found that a lack of sleep was an even bigger risk factor for overweight and obesity than the amount of time spent in front of the TV or computer.

Angelo Tremblay, who was involved in the study says, “It is ironic that part of the solution to obesity might lie in sleep, the most sedentary of all human activities.

In light of this study’s results, my best prescription against obesity in children would be to encourage them to move more and to make sure they get enough sleep.”

Weight Loss Resources says:

The importance of sleep is often forgotten about when it comes to staying fit and healthy, but this study highlights just how essential it is to ensure that children get enough shut-eye.

Staying up late often goes hand in hand with snacking – usually on sugary and fatty foods and drinks – which may help to explain why fewer hours in bed results in extra inches around the waistline.

Plus tired children are more likely to struggle getting out of bed in the morning and skip breakfast due to a lack of time. This means they’re more likely to overcompensate later in the morning by eating fatty and sugary snacks, which provide more calories than a normal breakfast would have.

Meanwhile, further research has suggested that a lack of sleep may affect the production of two hormones that regulate appetite so that tired children are more likely to feel hungry – and therefore eat. Sleep deprivation appears to be linked to lower levels of the hormone leptin, which reduces hunger, and higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, which makes us feel hungry.

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More Information

For more information to help children get a good nights sleep visit the Sleep Council’s website at www.sleepcouncil.com. Click on the ‘Consumer Room’ then ‘Leaflets’ to download a copy of The Good-night Guide for Children, which is full of tips aimed at helping children to get a restful night.

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