Enough sleep protects kids from obesity
Children who do not get sufficient amount of sleep on a regular basis are more likely to become overweight or obese, a new study suggests.
The study of 244 children aged between 3 and 7 in New Zealand showed that those who slept the least in the early years of life are at a greater risk of developing higher body mass index (BMI).
According to the findings published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the children who got an average 11 hours or less sleep per day are more prone to having higher BMI by the time they turn 7.
University of Otago researchers also found that each additional hour of sleep per night between the ages of 3 and 5 was associated with a 0.49 and a 61 percent drop in BMI values in the 7-year old children.
Lower BMI values results from differences in fat mass, rather than fat-free mass such as muscle, indicating that poor sleep has negative effects on body composition, scientists wrote.
Previous studied have revealed that insufficient sleep lowers the release of appetite suppressant hormone leptin and increases the appetite stimulant ghrelin. Too little sleep may also disrupt the metabolism and change the body’s reaction to insulin, which controls blood sugar.
Based on the new findings, Rachael Taylor and her colleagues suggest that sleep plays a critical role in determining children’s body composition and prolonged lack of shut-eye may cause children to eat more and exercise less.
"Reduced sleep might increase dietary intake purely through increased eating in the absence of hunger, particularly snacking, or because of more time being available to eat, or alternatively, via more complex hormonal regulation," the lead author said.
"Sleep deprivation can also influence energy expenditure, through fatigue leading to reduced voluntary exercise or perhaps by influencing thermoregulation," Taylor added.