Lack of Sleep leads to Obesity in Children and Teenagers According to University of Warwick Research

Are your children getting enough sleep? University of Warwick research finds that sleep is essential for avoiding childhood obesity

Parents are constantly bombarded with messages about childhood obesity, cutting out sugar, fat, other high risk consumption as well as not avoiding exercise, all of which leads to children becoming worryingly overweight. The World Health Organisation is now calling obesity a world wide epidemic.

But researchers from the University of Warwick are saying today that obesity can be caused by a lack of sleep as well as a lack of exercise and poor food choices. The researchers believe their findings are significant enough to inform parents to make sure their children are getting the right amount of sleep to lower the risk.

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

Sleep duration and incidence of obesity in infants, children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies, has just been published in the journal Sleep.

The findings came from review of 42 population sleep studies of children from birth to 18 years of age and included data from 75,499 participants.

US sleep guidelines were used which recommends the amount of sleep for the following age groups to be: 4-11 months 12-15 hours, 1-2 years  11-14 hours, 3-5 years 10-13 hours, 6-13 years 9-11 hours and 14-17 years 8-10 hours.

Participants were monitored for an average of three years, with changes in BMI and weight noted. It was found that those with the least sleep gained the most weight – overall making them 58 per cent more likely to become over weight or obese.

Co-author Professor Francesco Cappuccio said: “By appraising world literature we were able to demonstrate that, despite some variation between studies, there is a strikingly consistent overall prospective association between short sleep and obesity.

“This study builds on our previous analysis of cross-sectional data published in 2008. The importance of the latest approach is that only prospective longitudinal studies were included, demonstrating that short sleep precedes the development of obesity in later years, strongly suggesting causality.”


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