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Natural Awakenings

Sleep Affects Kids’ Waistline: Getting Enough Rest to Maintain Healthy Weight

Jan 01, 2008 03:00AM

Recent research suggests that today’s obese kids are suffering from more than a diet too high in fat and sugar and too little exercise. Fat also is generated by a lack of sleep.

A study of 3rd and 6th grade children found that kids who slept less than nine hours a day were more likely to be overweight or to gain weight over the next year than those who got more snooze time. Sleep deprivation, the researchers surmise, can impact a child’s energy levels, and when energy levels are low, children are more likely to turn to sweets to regulate their mood and less inclined to engage in physical activity.

Other emerging research also shows a connection between sleep disruption and levels of hormones, such as leptin and insulin, which regulate fat storage, appetite and glucose metabolisms. Thus too little sleep can lead to impaired carbohydrate metabolism, which tends to affect weight.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following sleep requirements for youth: 11 to 13 hours for preschoolers, 10 to 12 hours for elementary school students, 9 to 11 hours for preteens and 8½ to 9 hours for teens.


Source: Adapted from a University of Michigan report, 2007

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