Short sleep duration linked to obesity in children

07 February 2017
Child sleeping

A review of research concludes that short sleep duration increases the risk of childhood obesity.

The meta-analysis of research looking at the link between sleep duration and childhood obesity was published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.

The authors reviewed 12 studies and say public health efforts to encourage good childhood sleep may be important in combating childhood obesity.

The meta-analysis revealed that short sleep duration was associated with a 45% increased risk of developing obesity.

The authors say that the relationship between sleeping and obesity or BMI is not fully understood.

They say sleep loss may lead to weight gain due to increased levels of the hormone ghrelin and lower levels of the hormone leptin which can stimulate the appetite and the intake of excessive food.

Furthermore, they say experimental studies have shown that sleep deprivation can affect food choices and lead to fewer vegetables and fruits being consumed in favour of energy-dense foods, such as fast food or sugar-sweetened beverages.

The authors also suggest that children who sleep for a short duration may spend more waking hours on sedentary activities, such as media use, which gives them more opportunity to eat food or snacks.

Sleep loss also mean children engage in fewer physical activities and more sedentary activities because of daytime sleepiness and feeling of tiredness.

The authors say suggest sleeping and its links to obesity needs to be looked at in more detail.

“Although adequate sleeping has not been regarded as a strategy in combating the obesity epidemic, it is necessary for healthcare educators as well as parents to attach great importance to sleep-promoting interventions in paediatric weight management.

“Public healthy efforts for encouraging regular and enforced bedtimes are effective to prevent and control obesity as well as accompanying health consequences,” they say.

You can read the full article looking at the links between short sleep duration and chilldhood obesity here.